The game-winning goal in Saturday night’s battle between the Sharks and the Blues looked as though it had been fired out of a cannon. As if the tight nature of the game had condensed itself into the game puck and exploded the second Brent Burns launched it into the back of St. Louis’ net.
“He’s got a shot doesn’t he?” Todd McLellan said of the power play in over time that gave Number 88 the opportunity to end San Jose’s homestand on a high note. “He put himself in a good position, created a shooting lane. The pass was in his wheelhouse, and he just pounded away at it. It’s hard to stop a shot that fast and that quick.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s game-tying wrist shot to the back of the opponents net with 21 seconds left in regulation tied the tight-checking tilt up 2-2 and sent it into overtime. San Jose took a second period lead only to lose it in the second stanza, and trailed 2-1 right up until Vlasic beat netminder Jake Allen to send the game into extras. A late penalty on St. Louis’s Alexander Steen helped created pressure in the Blue’s zone, and Joe Pavelski set Burns up for a one-timer to notch the 3-2 victory, extending the Sharks home winning streak to eight games.
Talk before the game about these two teams being similar proved true in the first 30 minutes of play, as both battled to create scoring chances. “When we’re tough to play against, we don’t give up much, and they’re the same way,” said Vlasic. “It took a lot, against a good defensive team.”
“We broke through, it just took a long time,” Pavelski said. “We were pushing hard starting in that second period. I think we gained the momentum in the second, even though we lost the lead there.”
Both goalies were on point through the scoreless first frame — Antti Niemi, who had looked sluggish in his start against Edmonton on Thursday, kept the Blues off the board with a few nasty saves while Allen kept some of San Jose’s best looks from developing into goals.
San Jose finally broke through when Justin Braun made a brilliant pass to Andrew Desjardins for the shot five hole, which completely eluded Allen and put the Sharks on the board first, 1-0.
The lead didn’t last long. A couple Sharks got tangled up defending a shot by Alex Pietrangelo and Patrik Berglund had room to putt in the rebound past an outstretched Niemi to knot things up 1-1. San Jose’s defense was stymied again just a few minutes later in the frame and Steve Ott made good on the breakaway to beat Niemi and give the Blues the lead 2-1.
San Jose came out even stronger in the third period and peppered Allen with shots, but nothing was getting past him. It took an elusive wrister by Vlasic to knot the game up and send it into four-on-four. Steen was called for tripping Pavelski with 1.03 left in overtime. San Jose top power play unit got right to work and Burns notched the game-winner to send the sold-out crowd at the Tank home happy. A fitting end to another “big team win” as McLellan has come to call it.
“Guys ‘bought in’ again tonight,” Pavelski agreed. “It’s fun to play that way.”
— With Saturday’s game-winner, Brent Burns has seven career game winning goals in overtime, his second with the Sharks.
— Andrew Desjardins scored his first goal in 11 career games against the St. Louis Blues.
— The Sharks are now 9-2-2 in their last 13 games against the Blues in San Jose. They are 5-5-1 in their last 11 overall against St. Louis. (Notes courtesy of @SharksStats)