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Pavelski's non-hat trick keeps Sharks rolling
SJ jumps on St Louis early in 5-3 win
3/19/11 - By Mike Lee -

The last time the Sharks played the St Louis Blues, the Sharks were sitting in 12th place in the Western Conference standings. After Saturday night’s 5-3 victory over the Blues, the Sharks have a three-point buffer as they sit in the three-spot and the Pacific Division lead. Joe Pavelski led the Sharks with a pair of goals. Pavelski was originally credited with a hat-trick, but the official scorer made a change following the game.

San Jose played their second consecutive game without forward Dany Heatley, who was serving the final game of his elbowing suspension. The Sharks were without head coach Todd McLellan, who flew to Saskatchewan to attend the funeral of his brother-in-law.

Both are expected to be back on Wednesday, when the Sharks face the Calgary Flames, but San Jose may be without the services of Logan Couture, who suffered an injury to his right leg early in the 2nd period. Couture hit the end boards awkwardly after he was checked off a puck. The rookie forward had to be helped off the ice by two teammates and did not return to the game.

All but mathematically eliminated from the playoff race, the Blues had nothing to lose entering Saturday night’s game, but three 1st period goals by the Sharks dug a hole that St Louis could not recover from.

“Points at this time of year are always important and I thought our guys came to play, like they always do and jumped on them early,” said Sharks assistant coach Trent Yawney, who was filling in for McLellan as the bench boss.

Torrey Mitchell scored his 7th of the season 4 minutes into the contest, pumping a rebound past Jaroslav Halak. San Jose swarmed the St Louis net, putting two shots on goal from point blank range, before the puck finally landed on Mitchell’s stick.

Halak lofted the puck into the screen on a clearing attempt that put the Sharks on the power play 30 seconds later. San Jose struck early, converting on the power play just 11 seconds after Halak’s infraction. Patrick Marleau pumped a 30-foot shot home for his 29th goal of the season. The goal was originally credited to Pavelski, but was then given to Marleau.

B.J. Crombeen was then sent off for an unsportsmanlike conduct at 6:44 to put the sharks back on the power play. Pavelski made it 3-0 with a blast from the high slot that slipped just inside the left post. Alex Pietrangelo screened Halak on the play as he sat positioned at the top of the crease.

That goal ended Halak’s evening as Blues head coach Davis Payne pulled his netminder in favor of Ty Conklin, who was immediately forced to suppress more Sharks pressure. The new goaltender had to make a save on a Devin Setoguchi breakaway attempt midway through the period to keep the Blues within three goals.

“Back to back power play goals really kind of put us in a tough spot, there were times we pushed in the first period I thought Niemi made some real good saves that could have got us back into that game earlier,” said Payne.

Antti Niemi faced 15 shots-on-goal in each of the three periods, which included a big shot with a minute remaining in the opening period that he turned aside with a kick-save. A dark cloud would be cast over the Sharks big period when Couture crashed into dasher behind the St Louis net at the start of the 2nd period.

T.J. Hensick cut the Sharks lead to 3-1, scoring his 1st goal of the season at 8:19 of the period. Matt D’Agostini took a 60-foot lead pass from Ian Cole before splitting two Shark defenders on his way to the net. Niemi made the save, but the puck shot straight up into the air. When the puck came back to earth, it hit Hensick in the skate, deflecting into the net.

Setoguchi pushed the Sharks lead back to three goals four minutes later by firing a shot from the top of the right circle. Blues defenseman Roman Polak tried to knock the shot down with his stick, but he ended up changing the trajectory of the shot. That would cross up Conklin as the puck bounced off the ice and skipped past the Blues goaltender.

Jason Demers threw a pretty hip check on Adam Cracknell with 4 minutes to play before the 2nd intermission, which drew the ire of the Blues. Ryan Reaves let Demers have it with a series of cross-checks to the defenseman’s backside that drew off-setting penalties after Ryane Clowe got involved.

Pavelski converted on his 2nd goal of the night with 5.3 seconds left in the period, by deflecting a Dan Boyle shot from the right point. Pavelski was positioned at the bottom of the right circle, where he got his stick blade on the Boyle shot, redirecting it through Conklin’s five-hole.

Niemi kept it a 5-1 game with a nice same on Cole 5 minutes into the 3rd period after the Blues forward walked in on the Sharks net.

He would be more accommodating at the 8 minute mark, by allowing David Backes to fire a shot that slipped through Niemi’s pads and trickled over the goal line. The goal was Backes’ 26th of the season.

Niemi made two big stick saves with 4:30 to play, denying Hensick on a shot from the left side, right before the Blues forward circled behind the Sharks net and tried stuffing a wrap-around chance on the opposite side.

Andy MacDonald capped the game’s scoring at 18:21 with a blast from the high slot after the sharks failed to get the puck out of their own end. The Blues applied a spirited forecheck to generate the scoring chance.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
STL 0 1 2 3
SJ 3 2 0 5
1st period - 1, SJ, Mitchell 7 (Pavelski, White), 4:03. 2, SJ, Marleau 29 (Setoguchi, Thornton), 4:45, (pp). 3, SJ, Pavelski 15 (Boyle, Thornton), 7:41, (pp).
2nd period - 4, STL, Hensick 1 (D’Agostini, Cole), 8:19. 5, SJ, Setoguchi 20 (Marleau, Thornton), 12:30. 6, SJ, Pavelski 16 (Boyle, Mitchell), 19:54.
3rd period - 7, STL Backes 26 (Colaiacovo, Pietrangelo), 8:00. 8, STL, MacDonald 18 (Backes, D’Agostini), 18:21.
Penalties
1st period - Halak, STL (delay of game – puck over glass), 4:33; Crombeen, STL (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:44.
2nd period - Reaves, STL (cross checking), 16:00; Clowe, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:00; Mitchell, SJ (hooking), 17:24.
3rd period - Demers, SJ (delay of game – puck over glass), 10:57.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
STL - Halak 10 7
STL - COnklin 24 22
SJ - Niemi 45 42
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
STL 15 15 15 45
SJ 15 14 5 34
Power Play Conversion
STL 0 of 2
SJ 2 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Pavelski
Torrey Mitchell
Dan Boyle
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: LaRue, Leggo. Linesmen: Cameron, Henderson.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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