The Blues visited the “Shark Tank” (SAP Center) for the first time this season. They won’t be back until March 9th, 2019 for the last of 3 meetings this regular season. On November 9th, San Jose was shut out by Chad Johnson and the Blues (4-0) at Enterprise Center. Sharks look to even things up.
- Goaltending Match-up
Aaron Dell (1-2-2) was between the pipes November 9th in St. Louis but hadn’t played a game since. He’d get a shot at revenge. Dell held a 2.96 goals against average and .905 save percentage going into this one.
Chad Johnson (2-3-0) as mentioned earlier, saved all 33 shots faced in the last meeting, therefore gets the nod. This seemed to be the good choice as Jake Allen played the night before in Vegas, and Chad has good confidence. Johnson came in with a 2.08 goals against average and .927 save percentage.
- Blues Forward Lines
Schenn – O’Reilly – Tarasenko
Sanford – Bozak – Blais
Fabbri – Thomas – Perron
Soshnikov – Barbashev – Sundqvist
We notice Brayden Schenn moved up and over to the left wing in Jaden Schwartz‘ place. Jaden, out with an injury to his hand or wrist having been struck by a Vladimir Tarasenko shot the night before in Vegas. Schenn’s first game on the wing as a Blue went well against the Knights as he was able to put one past Marc Andre Fleury in the 4-1 victory.
Zach Sanford and Sammy Blais come up from the 4th line to the 2nd. Also, Nikita Soshnikov joins the lineup after being scratched for Sammy Blais the last game. Alexander Steen and Patrick Maroon, both on injured reserve with upper-body injuries.
- Blues Defensive Pairings
Dunn – Pietrangelo
Edmundson – Parayko
Bouwmeester – Schmaltz
Carl Gunnarsson sustained an upper-body injury against the Golden Knights, left the game and did not return. Vince Dunn is given an opportunity to step up in this one, seeing ice time with Captain, Alex Pietrangelo. Joel Edmundson comes up to play with Colton Parayko and Jordan Schmaltz suits up for his 12th game of the season, after sitting out for the last 2 games (CHI, VGK).
SAN JOSE SHARKS
- Home Record: (6-3-1)
ST. LOUIS BLUES
- Away Record: (2-2-2)
Ryan O’Reilly would start this game with an “A” on his shoulder, and I was happy to see that.
Early, Logan Couture went for Slashing. The Blues went on their first power play and Vladimir Tarasenko was the only to put a shot on goal. That shot would be stopped by Aaron Dell. San Jose is a very strong penalty killing team with a PK% of 88.9.
Just over 4 minutes in, We saw Erik Karlsson get a chance but miss the net. Aaron Dell gave the puck right to Brayden Schenn in the left circle. Schenn snapped a wrister and Dell said no.
Chad Johnson made a great save on San Jose leading goal scorer Timo Meier. Vladimir Tarasenko then saw another opportunity but his shot went wide of the net.
Halfway through the 1st period, shots were 9-4 in favor of San Jose, and faceoffs were even at 50%
We saw some very strong defense by the Blues, and calm goaltending by Chad Johnson. There weren’t a lot of prime opportunities for both clubs.
Chad Johnson made an arm save on Sorenson with about 5 minutes remaining in the 1st period as San Jose continued to pressure the Blues. Alex Pietrangelo made a big block and went off in some pain. The puck looked like it maybe hit him in the hand or wrist.
Alex collected himself and seemed to be okay. St. Louis blocked 8 shots in the 1st period.
Zach Sanford was able to set up Sammy Blais with 2:20 remaining in the 1st, but Dell had an answer. Erik Karlsson let one go from the point that was easily seen by Johnson.
- SHOTS: 14-9 in favor of Sharks.
- FACEOFFS: 55%-45% in favor of Blues.
- HITS: 9-8 in favor of Sharks.
- BLOCKS: 8-2 in favor of Blues.
The Sharks started on the Power Play. Chad makes a save with his glove on Evander Kane. San Jose was able to keep it in the zone. The Blues couldn’t clear the puck. Then, Joel Edmundson was called for Slashing at 1:42. The Sharks would go on their 2nd power play of the game.
St. Louis had a much better kill going in this Sharks Power Play. That is until Erik Karlsson finally scored his first goal as a shark after 20 games without doing so. A shot from Logan Couture to Chad Johnson’s right bounces off of Chad’s left pad out front. Karlsson Slapped one home stick side.
5 minutes in, shots were 19-9 in favor of San Jose.
Joe Pavelski was able to pick up a rebound and from behind the net score off what looked to be either Jay Bouwmeester‘s skate or Jordan Schmaltz stick.
Evander Kane then beat Johnson at 7:45 for his 7th of the season.
Shots were 25-11 midway through the 2nd period and the Blues were still up on draws with 58%.
Not much was happening for the Blues. They just weren’t creating opportunities and there wasn’t much pressure on Aaron Dell. However, the second half of the 1st, the Blues came with a push, putting 8 shots on goal but could not light the lamp.
- SHOTS: 27-19 in favor of Sharks.
- FACEOFFS: 54%-47% in favor of Blues.
- HITS: 15-13 in favor of Sharks.
- BLOCKS: Even 13-13.
5 minutes into the 3rd, the Blues had only put one shot on goal. Tyler Bozak missed a wide open net as he was fed a puck by Brayden Schenn. Bozak shot the puck while falling down and missed everything.
Jay Bouwmeester actually had a few offensive opportunities in the 3rd that Aaron Dell had answers for.
A two on one results in a Joe Pavelski goal with 8:02 left in the 3rd period to put the Sharks up 4-0.
Ivan Barbashev saw a great chance with 7:34 left in the 3rd period. Right in front of the net, Barbie was fed the puck from behind the goal line but again, Dell had an an answer for the Blues.
One of Bouwmeester’s chances, Schenn fed him from behind the net and Jay’s shot was deflected out of play.
The Blues had finally matched the Sharks in shots on goal with about 5 and 1/2 minutes remaining in the final frame.
St. Louis was able to hold San Jose to just 2 shots on goal in the 3rd period.
- SHOTS: 30-29 in favor of Sharks
- FACEOFFS: 47%-53% in favor of Blues.
- HITS: 23-19 in favor of Sharks.
- BLOCKS: 18-15 in favor of Blues.
I’m not sure I agree with starting Zach Sanford and Sammy Blais on the 2nd line. I think that there are better options. Spreading this roster out could have resulted in better competition. The Sharks were ready to play a game. They began by throwing everything at the net and playing very tight defense.
The Blues were committed to blocking shots in the 1st period as well. St. Louis started this game off winning faceoffs and continued to win faceoffs throughout the midway point of the game. San Jose, while only putting 2 shots on goal in the 3rd period, was able to win the majority of the faceoffs.
Aaron Dell played a great game, and I’ll give credit where credit is due, but he didn’t play an amazing game by any means. However, the Sharks in front of him, I feel played very sound defensively all night. San Jose did their best to limit the Blues prime opportunities. Dell had answers for those opportunities that the Blues did find.
I think this game turned around when David Perron took a penalty near the end of the 1st period. The Blues couldn’t really get going offensively in the first, however, were playing great defense. You don’t want to take a penalty when you’re already a step behind the opposition.
The Sharks came out in that 2nd period ready to make the Blues pay, and yes, St. Louis killed the penalty but only for Joel Edmundson to be called for another due to the continued pressure by the Sharks. The second kill looked to be going much better, but then the Blues give up a goal to Karlsson who has been struggling all season.
The Blues have to score to win. Tonight, they couldn’t beat Aaron Dell. They couldn’t beat the Sharks is an understatement. They couldn’t score on the Sharks. My personal opinion is that the line-up should have looked different tonight on the offensive side. I would have went with something like this.
Thanks for reading, Blues fans.