Blues goaltender Jake Allen (34) protects his net from Sharks captain Logan Couture (39). (Photo courtesy: John Hefti, USA TODAY Sports)
SAN JOSE – The “Road Warrior” Jake Allen continued to shine in his second straight start and Alex Pietrangelo buried two goals as the St. Louis Blues (23-8-6) took down the San Jose Sharks (16-19-2) by a final of 5-2. San Jose dominated possession time in the neutral zone to start, thanks to poor turnovers by the Blues, but Allen stood tall with high-quality saves.
San Jose capitalized quickly on their powerplay early in the second, but Jordan Kyrou tied things up by splitting through the defense less than two minutes later. Brayden Schenn scored his 400th career NHL point on the powerplay with Jaden Schwartz to put St. Louis up 2-1, but Stefan Noesen, getting claimed by San Jose on waivers Friday, tied the game late in the second period.
Midway through the third, captain Alex Pietrangelo found room in the Sharks zone and wristed one over Martin Jones to give the Blues the lead. He would score again on an empty net in the dying seconds of the game, along with Ryan O’Reilly, to secure a 5-2 win for St. Louis. Allen was superb in net, making 34 saves on 36 shots.
It was the Blues 14th comeback win of the season, as well as Craig Berube’s 61st win. The win gave him the franchise record for most wins in the first 100 games as the St. Louis head coach, usurping Ken Hitchcock. St. Louis continues the road trip through California with a meeting in Los Angeles, while San Jose hosts the Golden Knights on Sunday.
The Blues shook the rust off their legs after the cross-country travel, but not before San Jose got straight to work. The Sharks dominated possession in the neutral zone, and St. Louis couldn’t seem to gain the zone to get the offense started. This led to the most odd-man rushes against the Blues had seen this season, as the Sharks fired away with Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and captain Logan Couture at the helm.
When the Blues defense couldn’t get the job done, however, it was Jake Allen standing tall between the pipes. He stopped a multitude of San Jose’s dangerous chances on the rush, where at one point they outshot the Blues 9-2.
One line managed to get great looks for the Blues: Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron and Oskar Sundqvist, who contributed to the most offensive zone time in the first period. After one, the Blues skated off in a scoreless tie thanks to Jake Allen, getting outshot 15-6.
The Sharks were granted a powerplay in the end of the first, and they capitalized on it early in the second. Brent Burns scorched a slapshot from the blue line that caught Allen’s blocker, clanked off the iron and went in.
Despite the early goal in the period, the Blues would not be discouraged. Jordan Kyrou, after scoring his first of the season in Colorado, took another intercept in the neutral zone and split the defense to score a backhand goal.
Kyrou’s 2nd goal in three games tied the game 1-1 less than 90 seconds after Burns’ goal. The goal motivated the Blues to get their legs moving in the offensive zone, and they got their first powerplay opportunity of the evening after Evander Kane was charged with a delay of game.
The “Sasky Boys” Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz got to work on the powerplay, after Schwartz was left all alone on Martin Jones’ doorstep for an easy tap-in goal.
Schwartz’s 10th of the season gave the Blues the lead, while Schenn’s assist gave him his 400th career NHL point. The Blues tried to hound the zone with more chances, but San Jose’s defense buckled up and kept Martin Jones behind them comfortable. The Sharks continued to use their neutral zone play to their advantage, and Brendan Dillon sent a perfect stretch pass to Stefan Noesen, who hammered a slap shot past the short side.
Noesen’s first goal with his new club tied the game up at 2 apiece with four minutes to play in the second. Neither team could get a decent scoring chance late in the second period, and the Blues and Shakrs skated off tied once again. San Jose continued to lay siege to Allen, outshooting St. Louis 28-15.
The Blues’ defense was in full swing in the third period and got to their game right off the hop. The backchecking was solid in their own zone, and it finally contributed to their offensive chances.
It was a grinding effort both ways to generate any dangerous chances, but Jaden Schwartz created one with a great zone exit and neutral zone feed to the captain Alex Pietrangelo. Pietrangelo worked his way into the zone and wristed one clean past Martin Jones to give the Blues a 3-2 lead.
Alex Pietrangelo’s first in 5 games and 8th of the season gave the Blues a lead with eleven minutes to play in regulation. The Sharks desperately tried everything they could to find the back of the net, but would not pull Martin Jones until the final 90 seconds of regulation. Shortly after, Ryan O’Reilly would break his 9-game goal drought with a longshot towards the empty net.
The Sharks would pull Martin Jones again, but Alex Pietrangelo sent one more dagger with his second of the evening to make it 5-2 Blues to cap off the night. Jake Allen was tremendous in net again on the road, making 34 saves for his 7th win of the season.
The Blues took their 5th straight win as Jake Allen continued to impress. “We knew they were gonna come out hot, they always do in this building. We’ve played them so many times now, in recent years,” he told Darren Pang after the game. “They came out hot, we were on our heels, no doubt about it, but we got through it, and as the game went on, we got better. We found a way to get the win, it’s not always gonna be pretty.”
Coach Craig Berube hit a special milestone tonight, getting his 61st win in 100 games as the St. Louis head coach. He passed former head coach Ken Hitchcock as the all-time leader of the stat.
“When you can pass a guy, or be in the same company as a guy like [Hitchcock], it’s pretty special. Hitch and I go back a long way; I got a lot of respect for him. He’s obviously been a real good coach for a long time,” Coach Berube said.
Ever the modest coach, Berube gave a lot of credit to the Blues’ players for finding their game and rallying in the third to win. “I think they always find ways to win games. It’s not always pretty out there, we don’t always have our skating legs or energy… [Our guys] play a great third period and win the game, that’s just the way they do things. They’re professionals, they know how to win, we’ve got good character and leadership in the locker room.”
The Blues continue the road swing against Los Angeles on Monday at 9pm CT, looking for their 6th straight win. To follow Monday’s action, tune in to:
STL: FSMW, ESPN 101.1, NHL.com
LAK: FSW, KABC 790, NHL.com