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Sharks blow big lead against Blues
Horrific 3rd period costs San Jose
3/9/13 - By Mike Lee -

Killer instinct is a must have for any team serious about winning a Stanley Cup. The Sharks didn't exactly exude on Saturday in a matinee game against the St Louis Blues. It was those same Blues that kicked the Sharks teeth in last spring in a first round playoff thrashing. Those Blues stormed back from a two-goal deficit in the 3rd period to stun San Jose in overtime. The Sharks were forced to go on the defensive in the 3rd period, and it cost them.

With games ticking away during the shortened season, coughing up leads in the 3rd are magnified. This one was a tough pill to swallow, because of the opponent. San Jose is still trying to exorcise the demons of their playoff exit last season, and taking it to the Blues is part of that recovery process.

Instead, Saturday's performance creates more doubts about their ability to compete against worthy opponents. St Louis also gets picked up on what's been considered a mediocre season after their strong finish last season. Beating San Jose creates some momentum for a team that has played .500 hockey the last three weeks.

If San Jose wants to get serious about a playoff run, they need to learn to contain mid-leve; players like Vladimir Sobotka. The Russian winger looked like the second coming of Pavel Datsyukl on Saturday afternoon, scoring a hat trick against San Jose.

Sabotka started his tear with a goal 5 minutes into the game. Kevin Shattenkirk sent a shot in on Antti Niemi from the right point that bounced out in front for a Sobotka shot from 8 feet out. Justin Braun had the defensive assignment on Sobotka, but he couldn't tie up Sobotka's stick.

San Jose answered with 4:41 remaining in the period, when Logan Couture followed up on a Tommy Wingels attempt from in tight. Wingels tried jamming a puck past Blues goaltender Jake Allen as he crossed in front of the Blues goal. Allen made the save on Wingels, but the puck floated out in front of the right post where Couture swooped in and cleaned up for his 9th goal of the season.

Scott Gomez gave the sharks a 2-1 lead 7:45 into the 2nd period on another rebound. James Sheppard bounced a shot off Allen, before Ryane Clowe tried moving the puck with his skate. Allen pushed the puck forward with his stick, right to Gomez for the easy put back.

David Perron setup a Sharks power play late in the period by pouncing on Niemi. Matt Irwin made the Blues pay with a power play goal on a shot from the point. It was the first time the Sharks scored three goals in regulation since the end of January.

Two-goal leads in the 3rd period typically mean a death sentence for the trailing team, but the Sharks offered up a stay of execution by hospitably surrendering two bad goals.

Sobotka cut San Jose's lead to 3-2 with a wrist shot from the right side after the Sharks allowed the forward to march into their zone. Sobotka's shot was relatively routine, but Niemi waved at it as it floated over his left shoulder.

Dan Boyle took an ill-advised interference penalty less than a minute later to put the league's 2nd ranked power play on the ice and San Jose would pay. Once again it was Sobotka' who used the opportunity to almost double his goal production for the season with his 3rd of the game.

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan's reaction was to pull Niemi for Alex Stalock, who was recalled yesterday after it was determined that Thomas Greiss couldn't go.

McLellan's move did little to motivate his troops. Instead, they setup another Blues power play, when Joe Thornton took his second boneheaded penalty of the game. Thornton had been sent off earlier for a dangerous boarding penalty. This time Thornton took a shot at Barrett Jackman as he skated through the slot in the Blues zone.

Rather than trying to restore their lead, the Sharks were forced to try and preserve the tie while playing a man down. They would kill the penalty, but it took away time to work on the go-ahead goal.

Time would run out, which was probably the best case scenario for San Jose. They were out-shot 10-5 in the 3rd period, and spent the remainder of the frame trying to fend off a relentless Blues attack.

They wouldn't be so lucky in the extra period. Patrick Berglund ended things just 72 seconds in by tipping a shot past Stalock from the left dot. Dan Boyle helped the Blues out by failing to clear the zone, which kept the play near the Sharks goal.


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1 2 3 OT T
STL 1 0 2 1 4
SJ 1 2 0 0 3
1st period - 1, STL, Sobotka 5 (Shattenkirk, Redden), 4:51. 2, SJ, Couture 9 (Wingles, Irwin), 15:19.
2nd period - 3, SJ, Gomez 2 (Clowe, Sheppard), 7:45. 4, SJ, Irwin 2 (Braun, Gomez), 16:31, (pp).
3rd period - 5, STL, Sobotka 6 (Russel, Polak), 4:18. 6, STL, Sobotka 7 (Stewart, Shattenkirk), 5:38, (pp).
Overtime - 7, STL, Berglund 12 (Jackman, Pietrangelo), 1:12.
1st period - Stewart, STL (interference), 9:29; Clowe, SJ (cross checking), 9:29; Handzus, SJ (tripping), 12:42.
2nd period - Thornton, SJ (boarding), 4:08; PErron, STL (goaltender interference), 14:48.
3rd period - Boyle, SJ (interference), 5:13; Thornton, SJ (interference), 6:10; Backes, STL (high sticking), 14:22.
Overtime - None.
Shots Saves
STL - Allen 25 22
SJ - Niemi 28 25
SJ - Stalock 7 6
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
STL 12 11 10 2 35
SJ 7 12 5 1 25
Power Play Conversion
STL 1 of 4
SJ 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Vladimir Sobotka
Patrick Berglund
Scott Gomez
Referees: Kozari, Charron. Linesmen: Henderson, Sharrers.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees


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