Some things are givens with the San Jose
Sharks. They never play well in matinee starts or against goaltenders making
their NHL debuts. Joel Hofer got the call in net for the visiting St Louis
Blues, who lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the shootout 24 hours earlier.
Hofer would get past a shaky opening period to help the Blues knock off San
Jose 5-3 at SAP Center.
Why the Sharks can't ever seem to beat rookie
netminders is one of the great mysteries of the sport. Death, taxes, and the
inability to beat a rookie netminder all go hand in hand. They're all
Things started well, but their own inexperience would
inevitably cost them. San Jose still has seven regular starters in the NHL's
COVID protocol, which means they're still dependent on farm hands to fill out
San Jose took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play opportunity
7:13 into the game. Brent Burns unloaded from the high slot between the
circles. Nick Bonino distracted goaltender Hofer, who making his first NHL
start, by crossing in front of the netminder as Burns shot whistled toward the
The Blues made things tougher on themselves when Ivan
Barbashev took a high sticking double minor, but his teammates bailed him out
with a short-handed goal at the midway point of the game. Brandon Saad finished
off a break with Tyler Bozak after the Sharks turned the puck over in the
offensive zone. Tomas Hertl was guilty of watching the puck rather than skating
back to defend Saad who tapped home a saucer pass from Bozak on the left side.
Hertl had a nightmarish game, as he was on the ice for 4 of the 5
Logan Couture returned the short-handed favor when he
bagged his own goal while the Sharks were killing a Mario Ferraro holding
penalty. The Sharks captain picked defenseman Justin Faulk's pocket near the
Sharks blueline, then raced up the left side before snapping a shot past Hofer
for the 2-1 lead.
The Sharks can look to the 2nd period as the turning
point in this game. They would allow the Blues to tie things up 4:20 into the
frame when Pavel Buchnevich potted his 2nd goal of the season. Hertl and Ryan
Merkley got crossed up, allowing the Blues to retain possession in the Sharks
zone, eventually shuffling it to the right side where Buchnevich put a
one-timer past Adin Hill.
Nick Merkley scored his first goal as a Shark
to help San Jose reclaim the lead 20 seconds later. Ferraro threw the puck on
net from the left point, but Merkley got a stick blade on the puck as he fought
for position in the slot. The puck bounced past Hofer for the 3-2 Sharks lead.
The mistakes would catch up to San Jose at that point.
Saad tied things up once again at 8:20 after the
Sharks botched possession of the puck in the Blues zone. Saad gathered a lead
pass as he skated up the right wing, and threw it at the Sharks net. Hill
didn't do himself or his team any favors by allowing the puck to slip past him
and tuck inside the left post.
The inexperience in the home jerseys
would help the Blues claim the lead 11:42 into the middle frame. Jasper
Weatherby, Nicolas Meloche and Artemi Kniazev stumbled to defend behind their
own net, which allowed the Blues to move the puck to the point and James Neal
to setup out in front. A Jake Walman shot deflected bounced off Hill, landing
on Neal's stick. Hill was positioned too far to the left side, allowing Neal to
sweep the puck around him on the right side.
Both teams traded
penalties in the 3rd period, setting up power play chances for each squad. San
Jose just missed tying the game up when a crossing pass eluded Jonathan Dahlen
on the right post, which would have ended up in the Blues net if the rookie
forward would have been able to get a stick on the pass.
ended the suspense with a minute remaining in the game when Robert Thomas
scored an empty net game. Hofer was credited with the secondary assist, to earn
a point in his first NHL game. Game Notes:
* The Blues
lost Brayden Schenn to an upper body injury in the 2nd period. That forced
Blues head coach Craig Berube to shuffle his lines in the final frame.
* Sharks captain Logan Couture briefly left the contest in the 3rd period after
taking a hit along the boards that resulted in his head bouncing off the glass.
Couture returned after a brief trip to the locker room.
* Nick Merkley
scored his first goal as a Shark. The forward had 3 career NHL goals entering
play on Thursday night. He scored his first goal as a New Jersey Devil in 2020.
* Tomas Hertl followed up his 3 point game on Tuesday versus Buffalo
with a -4 night on Thursday.
* Goaltender Adin Hill was critical of
his play on Thursday, which wasn't unwarranted. The goaltender could have
stopped Saad's first goal and Buchnevich's lone tally. He was out of position
on James Neal's tally.