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No confidence, no positive results
Blues sweep season series for first time in 17 years
3/3/12 - By Mike Lee -

If confidence is really that relevant in the NHL, then the Sharks have none right now. They also have no answer for the St Louis Blues, who swept the season series with San Jose by dropping the Sharks 3-1 at HP Pavilion on Saturday night. In the four games this season, San Jose combined for a paltry three goals. They did little to challenge Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak, stifled by the Blues all night long. Fluke bounces, a lack of discipline and an opponent that gave up little were all factors in the Sharks 11th loss in their last 15 games.

Sharks assistant coach Matt Shaw summed it up best.

""Hockey is a physical game," said Shaw. "Their compete level on one-on-one battles was dramatically better than ours. The results were better and that translates to our lack of execution."

San Jose's confidence issues weren't helped by the Blues first goal, which was about as painful as they come. Skating on a power play, the Blues dumped the puck into the Sharks zone. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi skated behind his net to play the puck, which then kicked off a stanchion and deflected to the front of the net. Andy McDonald tapped in one of the easiest goals of his career as he pursued the dump in.

Torrey Mitchell made an appearance in the goal scoring section of the stat sheet for the first time in 20 games, throwing a puck on net with 4:31 left in the opening period. The puck caught Halak's pad as the Blue netminder went down to block the shot, flipping behind him and into the net. It was Mitchell's 6th goal of the season.

Any momentum that San Jose built off of Mitchell's was quickly erased as the Blues countered 20 seconds later. Carlo Colaiacovo threw a puck on net from the left point that was deflected by T.J. Oshie. The puck was directed downward, bouncing off the ice and over Niemi's left pad.

"We are obviously in a funk and we need to get out of it," said Douglas Murray, who made his return to the lineup after suffering a broken Adam's Apple. "We have to work hard, it is the same old cliché, but we just have to get it going."

The power play continued to haunt the Sharks, as they surrendered their second goal of the game down a man. Justin Braun was called cross checking, one of five minor penalties by the Sharks, before Kevin Shattenkirk flipped a shot between Niemi and the left post for his 9th goal of the season.

San Jose had three power play chances of their own, but poor decision making by their captain negated their first opportunity. Valdimir Sobotka was sent off for cross checking at 14:24, but Joe Thornton wiped the man-advantage away with a holding infraction.

"They give up the fewest amount of shots in the league, we knew we were only going to get six of seven great scoring chances," said Thornton. "They block a lot of shots, that's the way they play. You knew you weren't going to get a lot of chances."

An interference penalty by Colaiacovo later in the period was met by the Sharks with a single shot on goal. That shot was easily stopped by Halak and San Jose continued to search for answers on how to get a puck past the Blues goaltender.

A third Sharks power play was even more fruitless. A David Perron slashing penalty with just under 9 minutes left in regulation should have been a a great chance for San Jose to make a run, but instead it spawned a chorus of boos from the sellout crowd. The Sharks generated no shots on goal on the power play.

Tommy Wingles magnified the Sharks frustrating evening, when he failed to convert on a wide open net with 4 minutes left in the game. Wingles was hanging around the top of the Blues crease when a deflected puck bounced right to his stick, but Shattenkirk tied up his stick, denying the would be goal.

"It's unfortunate right now," said Logan Couture, who also returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with a lower body injury. "We need to win our battles for pucks to create some chances. They were the hungrier team tonight; they outshot us and outplayed us."





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Scoring
1 2 3 T
STL 2 1 0 3
SJ 1 0 0 1
1st period - 1, STL, McDonald 6 (Shattenkirk, Pietrangelo), 2:52, (pp). 2, SJ, Mitchell 6 (Moore, Winnik), 15:29. 3, STL, Oshie 16 (Coliacovo, Sobotka), 15:49.
2nd period - 4, STL, Shattenkirk 9 (Oshie, Pietrangelo), 12:38, (pp).
3rd period - None.
Penalties
1st period - Galiardi, SJ (high sticking), 2:27.
2nd period - Moore, SJ (interference), 0:36; Braun, SJ (cross checking), 11:39; Sobotka, STL (cross checking), 14:24; Thornton, SJ (holding), 15:39; Coliacovo, STL (interference), 18:27.
3rd period - Bench, SJ (too many men), 5:32; Perron, STL (slashing), 12:11.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
STL - Halak 19 18
SJ - Niemi 32 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
STL 12 12 8 32
SJ 7 3 9 19
Power Play Conversion
STL 2 of 5
SJ 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
T. J. Oshie
Alex Pietrangelo
Andy McDonald
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Watson, L'Ecuyer. Linesmen: Heyer, Morin.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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