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St Louis leaves Sharks black and blue
T.J. Oshie's hat trick leads Blues to 7-2 win
1/3/15 - By Mike Lee -

The St Louis Blues are wrapping up a lengthy road stretch that mimicked the horrific start of the Sharks season. Having lost 5 straight on the road, including a 4-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks less than 24 hours earlier, the Blues should have been easy picking for the Sharks on Saturday night at SAP Center. The Sharks played like they simply needed to mail in the win, and got spanked for it, dropping a 7-2 shellacking on home ice.

Kicking off 2015, the Sharks sit perched in the 8th spot in the Western Conference, trailing three teams by 2 points. Win and you sit in the middle of the playoff pack. Lose and you position yourselves in a dog fight to make the playoffs. It's only January, but half the season is gone, so catching fatigued teams like St Louis should be automatic.

It wasn't on Saturday night.

It was simply 20 guys that failed to compete, and as a result they got their teeth kicked in.

"We failed that test miserably, didn't we?" said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "On a night when we needed a number of, well everybody to elevate their game a little bit, one due to the opponent and two [because] we lost a player that was important. And we didn't do that. We did the exact opposite."

The obvious excuse was the absence of Joe Thornton, who missed his first game in 350 plus contests after being injured on Wednesday in Anaheim. But this was the reason Doug Wilson stripped Thornton of his captaincy last summer. This roster was supposed to be the one that allowed every play on it to be accountable for their time on the ice. It was supposed to be the team that allowed younger leaders to step up.

Where were those guys on Saturday night?

The Blues came blasting out of the gate from the opening faceoff, out-shooting San Jose 15-3 through the first 15 minutes of the contest. T.J. Oshie scored the first of his 3 tallies on the night at 11:49 of the opening period, hacking at a rebound from the slot that handcuffed Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi.

Oshie embarrassed the Sharks later in the game, walking past Tye McGinn, before snapping a shot from 8 feet out with a pair of Shark defenders staring at him from the front of the net.

"What went wrong?" asked Logan Couture. "Everything. Right from the first shift, we weren't even in that game. We were never in that game. It's very disappointing. To do that in any game, especially in a home building to a team that played last night and dominate you from the very start."

Melker Karlsson tied the game 1-1 with a similar goal to Oshie's 1st, by punching home a rebound after Barclay Goodrow bounced a shot off Blues netminder Brian Elliott.

It looked as if the Sharks might overcome their slow start and actually grabbed the lead, when Joe Pavelski snapped a shot from the right wing boards that slipped over Elliott's left shoulder 40 seconds after Karlsson's goal. Any such thoughts would be quickly put to rest when the Blues countered right before the end of the period.

Alex Steen blasted a shot from the bottom of the left circle as Marc-Edouard Vlasic failed to take away the shooting lane. Steen was allowed to wind up, leaving Niemi with little chance to stop the cannon shot from in tight.

"This is the reward," responded Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock. "We've been playing well for long stretches in the last three or four games - this is the reward we got for doing it. We eliminated some of the big mistakes that we've been making that hurt us badly, and just came and managed the game properly as it moved on; the fourth goal was huge, that gave us a little bit of breathing room going into the locker room and I think it discouraged them a little bit. The third period was the third period, but the fourth goal for us was huge."

With the Blues leading 3-2 on Oshie's 2nd goal, the Blues tacked another nail in the Sharks coffin with 8.6 seconds left in the period. Jaden Schwartz was battling along the end boards near the left corner, when his attempt to dig the puck out hit a skate and deflected through the crease to Kevin Shattenkirk on the far side for the easy deposit.

The only thing the Blues did wrong all night was to put the Sharks on the power play 6 times. That did nothing to impact the outcome of the game, as San Jose did nothing to capitalize on the advantages. St Louis did exactly the opposite, converting on 2 of the 4 power play chances they had. Those two goals came in the 3rd period, bookending an even strength goal by Dmitri Jaskin.

Oshie completed his hat trick by bouncing a shot off linemate David Backes at 9:16. The goal slipped past Alex Stalock, who entered the game after Niemi was pulled following Jaskin's goal.

"We've been playing pretty good as a group," said Oshie. "Tonight was a full effort, from the goalie on out. All seven d-men played tonight and all 11 forwards. We limited our mistakes and still took a couple penalties that we'd like to have back but for the most part limited our mistakes in the d-zone (defensive) and got to spend a bunch of time in the offensive zone tonight."

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Scoring
1 2 3 T
STL 2 2 3 7
SJ 2 0 0 2
1st period - 1, STL, Oshie 8 (Steen, Shattenkirk), 11:49. 2, SJ, Karlsson 2 (Goodrow, Tennyson), 17:42. 3, SJ, Pavelski 20 (Hertl, Burns), 18:22. 4, STL, Steen 10 (Stastny, Oshie), 19:16.
2nd period - 5, STL, Oshie 9 (Jaskin, Gunnarsson), 5:32. 6, STL, Shattenkirk 7 (Schwartz, Tarasenko), 19:51.
3rd period - 7, STL, Schwartz 12 (Steen, Shattenkirk), 1:17, (pp). 8, STL, Jaskin 4 (unassisted), 4:58. 9, STL, Oshie 10 (Shattenkirk, Stastny), 9:16, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Ott, STL (roughing), 12:13; Reaves, STL (roughing), 12:13; Haley, SJ (roughing), 12:13; Haley, SJ (roughing), 12:13.
2nd period - Lehtera, STL (hooking), 1:54; Hannan, SJ (interference), 10:38; Shattenkirk, STL (high sticking), 11:26.
3rd period - Hannan, SJ (holding), 1:12; Cole, STL (holding), 5:14; Goodrow, SJ (holding), 8:26; Cole, STL (high sticking), 10:16; Ott, STL (roughing), 12:01; Braun, SJ (roughing), 12:01; Tarasenko, STL (tripping), 16:17; Wingels, SJ (holding), 16:49; Reaves, STL (roughing), 20:00; Ott, STL (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00; Haley, SJ (slashing), 20:00.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
STL - Elliott 20 18
SJ - Niemi 27 21
SJ - Stalock 6 5
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
STL 16 8 9 33
SJ 8 6 6 20
Power Play Conversion
STL 2 of 4
SJ 0 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
T.J. Oshie
Kevin Shattenkirk
Alex Steen
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Charron, Kozari. Linesmen: Heyer, Kovachik.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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