The Sharks might be glad they don’t have to see Brandon Saad and the St. Louis Blues again for another few months.
The Sharks allowed two goals to Saad and another to Robert Thomas in a 4-1 loss to the Blues at Enterprise Center on Thursday in the fifth and final game of San Jose’s 10-day road trip.
Jonathan Dahlen scored an even-strength goal at the 8:16 mark of the second period to cut the Blues’ lead to 2-1. But St. Louis got that goal back just 2:01 later, as Saad took a pass from Oskar Sundqvist on a Blues rush and tapped it past Sharks goalie James Reimer to restore his team’s two-goal lead.
Saad’s first goal came at the 10:25 mark of the opening period, and he now has four goals in two games against San Jose this season. He also had two goals in the Nov. 4 meeting between the two teams at SAP Center. The Sharks’ next game with St. Louis is April 21 in San Jose.
Reimer, in his third start in the last four games, made 32 saves in the first two periods to keep his team in the game. But the Sharks couldn’t mount much of a comeback in the third period as they finished the road trip with a 2-3-0 record.
Reimer finished with 44 saves.
Logan Couture thought he scored his seventh of the season at the 7:21 mark of the first period for a 1-0 Sharks lead. But after a challenge by the Blues, it was determined that Dahlen was offside.
Timo Meier assisted on Dahlen’s goal and now has points in 10 of his 11 games this season.
The Sharks have Friday off and will open a four-game homestand on Saturday against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
The Sharks knew they had to be wary of the Blues’ power play, which came into Thursday ranked second in the NHL at 30.0 percent.
With Kevin Labanc serving a tripping penalty, the Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly, after some quick puck movement inside the Sharks’ zone, put the puck toward the Sharks net and Saad, who had inside position on Brent Burns and tapped it into the open net.
The Sharks had the league’s top-ranked penalty kill at 90.2 percent coming into Thursday, but took three minors in the first two periods.
“They work in unison and (Blues forward David) Perron gets on that one side, and O’Reill) feeds off that. They look for that little soft area, those little pop plays a lot,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said Thursday morning. “We have to have good sticks against that. Also, if they seam (pass) you, they’re looking to back door you right away with tip plays around the net.
“Our (defense) has to be aware that if we get beat once through the seam, we can’t get beat twice.”
The Sharks were coming off an impressive 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday to improve to 2-2-0 on this five-game swing that started Nov. 9 in Calgary and continued through Winnipeg and Colorado.
The Sharks were also running into a Blues team that had lost four straight and hadn’t won in regulation time since their 5-3 victory in San Jose earlier this month.
“We’re coming into a bit of a hornet’s nest here,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. “They’ve lost four in a row and they switched their lines, and we know how that goes. We were talking this morning about just being ready. We know they’re going to come hard, but it’s more about us replicating what we did in Minnesota.”
Perhaps that’s why St. Louis defensemen Robert Bortuzzo sought out a fight with Sharks defenseman Jake Middleton shortly after the opening puck drop.
Just three seconds into the game, Bortuzzo and Middleton dropped the gloves for a short-lived scrap, as Middleton connected with a right hand.
“His team has had a rough past couple of games,” Middleton told the Sharks’ Audio Network between the first and second periods. “I wasn’t expecting anything that early, but he was pretty hot and heavy to start that first period and I had to oblige. I knew what he was doing.
“It’s kind of ethic thing. You let him have that one. It was good, though.”
NOTE: Forward Lane Pederson missed his third straight game Thursday after he was hurt in the Nov. 11 game with the Winnipeg Jets. Boughner initially said that Pederson could miss up to two weeks with the lower-body injury that happened when he was hit by Jets defenseman Logan Stanley.
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Author: Curtis Pashelka