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Couture leads San Jose again
Solid performance wraps up road trip
12/18/10 - By Mike Lee -

San Jose finished off their three-game road trip with a solid outing in St Louis on Saturday night, and were rewarded with a 4-1 victory. Logan Couture continued his hot streak by scoring a pair goals and Antero Niittymaki made 21 saves to earn his 11th win of the season. The Sharks kept things simple, moved the puck well, and put together a chance to win three games in a row for the first time since early November.

It was the first trip back to St Louis, since Joe Thornton earned a two-game suspension for his hit on David Perron back on November 4th. Perron hasn't played since that game, suffering the affects of a concussion that he suffered on the hit. For the Blues, that was the start of a string of injuries that has really ham-strung this team. St Louis would suffer more injuries Saturday night.

The Sharks didn't let the Perron situation affect their game, although physical play and fisticuffs were a big part of the story.

Thornton missed on a golden opportunity five minutes into the contest when he found himself with the puck in front of Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The Sharks captain fooled Halak with a forehand move from three feet out, but couldn't get the shot over Halak's pads.

Patrik Berglund took a high sticking penalty 50 seconds after Jason Demers was sent off for holding. San Jose killed off the Demers penalty and used a brief power play to score the game's first goal.

Couture, the rookie centerman, converted his 16th goal of the season on an impressive deflection from the slot. Dan Boyle fired a shot on goal from the blueline that was partially deflected by a Blues defender right after the shot. Couture was positioned in line with the shot between the circles and got his stick blade on the puck, deflecting it toward the ice. The puck would bounce in front of the crease and hop over Halak's stick and into the goal.

Ryan Clowe and BJ Crombeen dropped the gloves with 6 minutes and change remaining in the period, snapping a 12-game stretch for San Jose without a fight. Clowe bloodied Crombeen in a spirited scrap. Scott Nichol and Chris Porter would also engage each other less than a minute later, albeit a much shorter affair.

San Jose got a late goal to make it 2-0 right before the first intermission, when Marc Edouard Vlasic sent a long shot from the left point past Halak. The shot wasn't anything special, but it appeared to fool the Blues netminder as it tucked inside the right post.

Couture left the game with a minute to play in the period, walking gingerly as he stepped into the locker room.

The Sharks got a break on a breakaway chance for the Blues that went by the way side. Ian Cole took a lead pass after exiting the penalty box 7 minutes into the 2nd period, but his shot sailed over Niittymaki to preserve the Sharks two-goal lead.

Couture would make it 3-0 after deflecting another Boyle shot past Halak at 8:21. Couture kept the puck alive with a strong forecheck along the end boards, then skated to the top of the crease just as Boyle's shot came sailing into the slot area. The puck hit Couture in the chest and redirected into the net. It was his 17th of the year and 14th on the road this season.

David Backes would score on a penalty shot at 10:44, after he was interfered with on a break to the net. Backes beat Niittymaki with a 5-hole shot that hit the Shark goaltender right pad and sputtered across the line to get the Blues on the board.

Devin Setoguchi would push the lead back to three goals by whacking at a deflection in front of the net, after Halak failed to gain control of the puck in a scrum. Vlasic was credited with the primary assist, but it was Joe Pavelski that did the heavy lifting to get the puck on net. For Setoguchi, it was his third goal in two games, all coming since returning from the injured list.

Game Notes:

Dave Scatchard suffered a lower body injury in the 1st period and did not return. Carlo Colaiacovo was also dazed by a hit in front of the Blues glass that required some attention that wuld sideline him for the remainder of the game. Couture tied Milan Michalek for third on the franchise list for goals by a rookie. Pat Falloon holds the club record with 25.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 2 1 1 4
STL 0 1 0 1
1st period - 1, SJ, Couture 16 (Boyle, Clowe), 9:30, (pp). 2, SJ, Vlasic (Pavelski, Mayers), 18:15.
2nd period - 3, SJ, Couture 17 (Boyle, Marleau), 8:21. 4, STL, Backes 7 (penalty shot), 10:44.
3rd period - 5, SJ, Setoguchi 5 (Vlasic, Pavelski), 15:04.
Penalties
1st period - Demers, SJ (holding), 6:54; Berglund, STL (high sticking), 7:49; Boyes, STL (high sticking), 11:39; Clowe, SJ (fighting major), 13:27; Crombeen, STL (fighting major), 13:27; Nichol, SJ (fighting major), 14:48; Porter, STL (fighting major), 14:48; Mayers, SJ (fighting major), 18:18; Winchester, STL (fighting major), 18:18.
2nd period - McGinn, SJ (roughing), 5:10; Cole, STL (roughing), 5:10; McGinn, SJ (PS - slash on breakaway), 10:44.
3rd period - Berglund, STL (hooking), 1:58; Clowe, SJ (roughing), 7:24; Jackman, STL (roughing), 7:24.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Niittymaki 22 21
STL - Halak 34 30
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 7 10 17 34
STL 3 11 8 22
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 4
STL 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Attendence
19,150
Officials
Referees: Meier, Hebert. Linesmen: Racicot, Cvik.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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