Bittersweet Victory- Apparently someone forgot to tell the St Louis Blues it's not 2011 anymore. Six different Sharks players put the puck in the net as Team Teal routed the Blues 6-2 at the Scottrade Center Tuesday Night in St.Louis. The victory was the Sharks sixth straight to start the 2013-14 season, and a welcome victory in a building where just two years ago they could not buy a goal to save their season literally. Two years ago in a playoff series where the Sharks got owned, they were also intimidated by the Blues who did not just want to win the series but also beat down the Sharks in the process. Fast forward to present day, the Sharks team that was on the ice Tuesday night is a far better product that two seasons ago. The Sharks changed. The Blues and their "Jump and Punch Out the Sharks" tactics have not. In what could only be described as a cheap shot at best, the Blues' Maxim Lapierre hammered Dan Boyle into the boards while Boyle had his back turned to him just over five minutes into the game. The result of the hit was Boyle being down on the ice for several minutes laying motionless. This also resulted in several fights breaking out on the ice. The difference between two years ago and today is that not only did the Sharks NOT back down to the Blues, they took the fight right back to them. The Sharks would go on to not only defeat the Blues by a solid four goal margin but make a very loud statement to St Louis in the process. That statement was "If you want to fight, we will give you one." This is not the first time Maxim Lapierre has tried to take a Shark out of a game deliberately. Three years ago Lapierre injured Scotty Nichol in a game and challenged other Sharks to do something about it. Tonight the Sharks did something about it. It's called six goals. The best way to handle a cheap shot artist, beat this team where it counts the most. On the scoreboard. This was a "Statement" Win for the Sharks.
The Aftermath Was Teal Rain, and Blue Pain- After the chaos caused by Lapierre was sorted out, the Sharks went on the power play. The five minute power play was only interrupted by a bookended two minute penalty to Marc-Edouard Vlasic. After Vlasic's penalty had ended the Sharks took to the task of taking up for their fallen teammate. Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski each scored within 48 seconds of each other to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead starting at the 9:48 mark of the opening period. Couture's goal beat Blue goalie Jaroslav Halak to his left as the puck hit post and bounced into the net. Pavelski's goal was a laser shot that beat Halak to his right, threading the needle by putting the puck in the only spot it could get through. On the other end of the ice Antti Niemi only had to make six saves on the first period. In one sequence late in the period Niemi made back to back solid saves on the Blues' Alexander Steen and Derek Roy. Niemi would also make a huge point blank save on a shot by Jaden Schwartz early in the second period to keep the Sharks lead at two goals. Niemi would be busier in the second period then in the first and was able to turn back all the rubber that came his way. Almost midway through the period Tommy Wingles would increase the Sharks lead to three with a nice wrap around that beat Halak to his right after. Wingles stayed on top of a wrist shot that Halak had initially had stopped however was unable to control. With the puck loose and rolling behind the goal, Wingles was able to get on top of the puck again and stuff it inside the left post as Halak attempted to dive on the rubber before it could go in. Several minutes later Scott Hannan made it 4-0 in favor of the Sharks as he took a Joe Thornton feed pass and beat Halak five hole from with a solid slap shot from about 20 feet out.
A Different Tune in St Louis- The Sharks would continue to dominate and frustrate the Blues throughout the third period as well. The Blues again would try go get a lot of hard rubber towards the Sharks net but Niemi was having none of it. Meanwhile the Blues brought in Brian Elliot to relieve Halak. The night however would go no better for Elliot however than it did for Halak. The Sharks would increase their lead to five goals when in reversal of roles Tomas Hertl fed Thornton as he was coming down the center of the ice with a perfect feed pass inside the St Louis zone. Thornton would launch a quick wrister than beat Elliot and got stuck in the webbing of the net past the crossbar. The Blues would try to make it respectable as two and a half minutes after Thornton's goal Vladimir Tarasenko would drill a rebound of a J Schwartz shot past Niemi to break the shut out. Five minutes later Roman Polak would get a puck past Niemi to cut the Sharks lead to three goals with just under eight minutes. As things were getting late the Blues Chris Stewart decided for some reason to try and pick a fight with Vlasic. Shorty after the two exchanged pleasantries before a late face off, Stewart took his stick and slashed Vlasic's stick breaking it in half. After the officials called Steward for slashing he went on a profanity laced tirade at Vlasic. While the Blues fans seemed to love this, it would soon be clear that Stewart's antics would be costly. While Stewart was in timeout in the penalty box for acting like a two-year old, the Sharks made the most of the late gift power play. With 2:54 remaining Patrick Marleau would drill a in a power play goal as his close range slap shot beat Elliot. When the festivities were done the Blues were no longer in a fighting mood. This time they could not get off of the ice fast enough. As for Maxim Lapierre, he will have some explaining to do to Brendon Shanahan sometime on Wednesday.
Game Notes- The three stars of the game were: 3) Tommy Wingles (1 Goal); 2) Patrick Marleau (1 Goal, 2 Assist); and 1) Joe Thornton (1 Goal, 3 Assists). Jason Demers, James Sheppard, Andrew Desjardins, Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl all had assists. The latest on Dan Boyle was that he was taken to a local area hospital in the St Louis area and had not lost any feeling through his extremities. It is not known how long he will be out or that he will even be able to travel with the Sharks on to Dallas with the team. If Brendon Shanahan, the NHL's lord of discipline does not come down hard on Lapierre there is a problem and there would be something wrong about all of this. If Raffi Torres can collide with Jared Stoll in the playoffs and be suspended for the rest of the post season, it would only be fair that maybe Lapierre be out for at least as long as Boyle will be out. Hopefully Boyle's injuries are not serious and that he will be back with the team soon enough. If the NHL is serious about cracking down on cheap shots and other acts of unnecessary roughness so to speak, then it needs to make an example of Lapierre and sit him out for maybe at least as long as Boyle is out if not maybe at least a quarter of the season. If the NHL fails to do this, the end result will only be more mayhem on the ice more sooner than later. You know the Sharks won't forget about this and they simply shouldn't. The Sharks will host the Blues at the Shark Tank November 29th the day after Thanksgiving. That date has been circled on the calendar.
Next Sharks Game- The Sharks travel to Dallas, Texas to meet an old nemesis and foe in the Dallas Stars. The Stars who now reside in the Central Division of the Western Conference are lead by Jamie Benn who is now the team's captain. Tyler Seguin who came over from Boston in an offseason trade is currently the Stars leading scorer. The puck drops at 5:30pm PT (7:30pm CT in Dallas). The game will be carried on the Comcast Sports Network and the Sharks Radio Network.
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