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Workmanlike on the road
Sharks take road trip opener
11/28/06 - by Mike Lee

Oh how times have changed. Ten years ago, the Sharks were lucky to scratch out a point against the St Louis Blues, but those salad days seem to be over for the once mighty Blues. San Jose continued its dominance over the now lowly Blues on Tuesday night in Missouri, kicking off a four-game road trip. Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski provided the Sharks will all the offense they would need in a 2-0 shutout before a paltry 8,679 fans at the ScotTrade Center.

San Jose put the clamps on the Blues defensively, limiting St Louis to a handful of serious scoring chances. Vesa Toskala posted his second shutout of the season, facing 29 shots.

"We scored only two goals, but it felt like we were in control all the time," Toskala said. "The penalty killing was working good. We played well and we played smart."

San Jose also snuffed out three St Louis power play chances, but that wasn't surprising considering that the Blues have only scored two extra-man goals in their last 41 attempts.

"Yeah, we got some shots on net, but we've got to find a way to score goals," Blues forward Keith Tkachuk said. "The power play, it's a big reason. It's losing us games."

The closest the Blues came to scoring was on a Petr Cajanek shot that bounced off the post late in the 1st period. That shot would have tied the game after Clowe scored his 3rd goal of the season just 2:15 into the game. The Sharks forward punched at a loose puck in the slot after Curtis Brown fired a shot on Blues goaltender Manny Legace.

Clowe squeezed between Jay McClement and Christian Backman and poked the puck toward the Blues goal. Legace seemed to lose sight of it as it trickled toward his left skate, pin-balling between his pads and into the goal.

"I could feel it just rattle around and I didn't know where it was, so I didn't want to move," Legace said. "Sure enough, it just tweaked over the line. It took forever, too."

Pavelski added his second goal in three games for San Jose just 6 seconds into an Eric Brewer high-sticking penalty. After winning the faceoff in the Sharks zone, Pavelski grabbed a touch pass from Steve Bernier along the left wing boards, before circling toward the slot and wristing a shot from 20-feet out.

Already besieged with injuries to key players, San Jose got a scare late in the game when Mike Grier slammed the back of his head into the boards after getting tied p with Blues defenseman Jeff Woywitka. Grier's helmet flew off while he was falling to the ice, exposing his head as it slammed into the boards.

Grier was helped off the ice to receive stitches, but he would return to the bench several minutes later.

"He's got a big lump on his head right now. They're out there fixing the ice where he hit," Wilson cracked.

The few faithful St Louis fans who bothered to show up probably felt like wacking several of the Blues players on the back of the head after their lackluster performance.

"Right now we're really squeezing the pucks," coach Mike Kitchen said. "It seems like we can't hold onto the puck, we can't make a play."


Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek were both inactive once again, although Cheechoo is eliginle to come off the injured reserve list. Michalek is eligible to return on tomorrow night when the Sharks take on the Minnesota Wild, but the Sharks have not given any indication that Michalek is ready. The Wild will most likely be without Marion Gaborik, who suffered a groin strain on October 20th. Gaborik skated with the team on Monday and Tuesday, but it's unlikely that he will return to face San Jose.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 0 2
STL 0 0 0 0
1st period - 1, SJ, Clowe 3 (Brown, Smith), 2:15.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Pavelski 2 (Bernier), 1:08, (pp).
3rd period - None.
1st period - None.
2nd period - Brewer, STL (high sticking), 1:02; Gorges, SJ (tripping), 10:30.
3rd period - Weight, STL (hooking), 5:56; Bernier, SJ (hooking), 10:47; Bell, SJ (tripping), 13:31; Weight, STL (tripping), 18:58; Wideman, STL (hooking), 19:58.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Toskala 29 29
STL - Legace 27 25
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 9 12 6 27
STL 12 10 7 29
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 4
STL 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Vesa Toskala
Joe Pavelski
Ryan Clowe
Referees: Mike Leggo, Tim Peel. Linesmen: Derek Amell, Greg Devorski.

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