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Vlasic and Burns get offensive in comeback
Sharks score last second goals in regulation and overtime to knock off St Louis
12/20/14 - By Mike Lee -

Things looked bleak for the Sharks on Saturday night. Wrapping up their 5-game home trip against the St Louis Blues, San Jose skated for most of the evening as if they had hit the egg-nog a little too hard before the opening faceoff. Battling the puck all night, the Sharks were chasing their A-game without much success, until Marc-Edouard Vlasic bailed them out with a goal in the final minute of regulation.

Trailing 2-1 late in the game, the Sharks were forced to pull goaltender Antti Niemi in an attempt to tie the game with an extra attacker. That strategy paid off when Vlasic took a cross-ice pass from Joe Thornton as he sprinted from the Sharks bench on a line-change and ripped a shot past Blues goaltender Jake Allen with 20.6 seconds left in the 3rd period.

Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau were skating through the slot as Vlasic's shot floated toward the St Louis net. Pavelski may have distracted Allen enough to distract the netminder. Regardless, it was just what the doctor ordered when the Sharks needed it the most.

"The issue was that we let the point shot get through, we got beat on the boards and that's what disappointing,"said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock. "The last two games have been disappointing from a checking stand point."

The 59 minutes leading up to Vlasic's game-tying goal was an exercise in frustration, as the Sharks never really got things on track. They opened the game on their heels, spending more time in their own end than in front of Allen. San Jose mustered only two shots on goal in the opening period, and one of those was a bit of charity from the scorekeeper as Tomas Hertl's shot sailed wide of Allen and the Blues net.

Andrew Desjardins actually staked the Sharks to a 1-0 lead midway through the 2nd period after snapping a shot past Allen from the left side after whipping a shot around Alex Pietrangelo. The puck squeezed past Allen and the left post to give the sharks a short-lived lead.

"I felt good, I would like to have the first one back, that's an unacceptable goal, but I thought I made some saves to give the guys a chance," added Allen after the game.

Patrick Berglund knotted the game at 1-1 less than 4 minutes later after Petrangelo fired a shot from the right point that Niemi stopped but could not control. Berglund actually skated past the shot, but he caught it perched outside the left post as he reached back and spun to his left while lifting a backhand shot into the wide open net.

SAP Center's public enemy number one, Steve Ott, made his return to San Jose and rubbed a little salt into old wounds by putting the Blues up with his 1st goal in almost a year with 2:39 left in the period. The Sharks were pressing in the Blues zone, but Brent Burns made one too-many passes, missing through the slot to Joe Thornton. Maxim Lapierre intercepted Burns pass and started heading up the right side, before seeing Ott streaking up the off wing. A diagonal pass through the neutral zone setup Ott for a breakaway chance that he would deposit through Niemi's pads.

"We were pushing hard starting in that second period," said Pavelski. "We got a couple breaks, but I think we gained the momentum in the second, even though we lost the lead there. Guys came out in the third, we kept doing it the right way and we broke through. It just took a long time."

Vlasic's heroics late in regulation meant the Sharks would salvage at least a point in the standings but helping his team reach overtime. That was probably more than they deserved.

Not typically one to press in the overtime, San Jose created an opportunity when a turnover in the neutral zone forced Alexander Steen to trip Pavelski as the puck kicked back towards the Blues zone. Had Pavelski not been upended, he would have had an uncontested breakaway. Steen's infraction setup the 4-on-3 power play with 63 seconds left in the extra session.

With two defenders high and one protecting the front of the net, the Blues were in a difficult spot as the Sharks worked the puck from behind the net counter-clockwise around the perimeter. Burns slid the puck to Pavelski on the right side before taking a return feed as he sat in the high slot. The sharks defender stepped into the puck and sent a blast that snapped past Allen's right arm for the game-winning goal.

Those of the sellout crowd that chose to attend erupted as Burns shot ruffled the net.

"We have to be fairly happy with the point production and the game - the way we're playing," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "We played a good team tonight and gave up 12 shots in the last two periods and overtime, which is a good thing for our club. Now, one more in a tough building against a really good opponent. We'll see if we can duplicate it and then take our break."

Game Notes:

* The Sharks played without committing a penalty for the first time this season.

* Melker Karlsson picked up an assist on the game-tying goal. He now has four assists in five career NHL games. The Sharks have not lost since Karlsson joined the team.

* Burns is tied for the NHL lead in goals by a defenseman (10).



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Scoring
1 2 3 OT T
STL 0 2 0 0 2
SJ 0 1 1 1 3
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, SJ, Desjardins 2 (Braun, McGinn), 10:47. 2, STL, Berglund 4 (Pietrangelo, Jaskin), 14:29. 3, STL, Ott 1 (Lapierre, Cole), 17:21.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Vlasic 4 (Thornton, Karlsson), 19:39.
Overtime - 5, SJ, Burns 10 (Pavelski, Couture), 4:22, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Team, STL (too many men), 13:31.
2nd period - Lehtera. STL (high sticking), 5:47.
3rd period - None.
Overtime - Steen, STL (tripping), 3:57.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
STL - Allen 30 27
SJ - Niemi 20 18
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
STL 8 9 3 0 20
SJ 2 17 9 2 30
Power Play Conversion
STL 0 of 0
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Brent Burns
Jake Allen
Andrew Desjardins
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: McCauley, Joannette. Linesmen: Grandt, Henderson.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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