This was one of those three-point games that everyone except for the two teams playing hates to see, especially this time of year. With a 3-2 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues, the San Jose Sharks pick up that very important extra point, catapulting them over the Calgary Flames for the top spot in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference — at least for now.
The Blues, meanwhile, keep from slipping into a wild card position and hang on to that third spot in the Central Division.
Once again tonight, San Jose’s youth shined through. Kevin Labanc scored the overtime winner with helpers from Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture. Timo Meier scored the team’s two regulation goals.
In net, Martin Jones was not a rock star, but he did what he had to do when he had to do it. Jones stopped 17 of the 19 shots he faced for a .895 save percentage on the night. While it’s not ideal, he did hold the Blues to that two goals or fewer sweet spot that seems to lead to most of the Sharks’ wins this season.
As a testament to how he looked on the ice, Jones earned the second star of the day. Allen, who ended the game with 30 saves and a .909 save percentage, earned the third star. For those keeping score, Meier with his two goals, claimed the first star.
When it comes to possession, it’s a lot like you would expect from two teams that are playoff bound. Looking at score- and venue-adjusted Corsi at 5-on-5 (courtesy of Natural Stat Trick), the Blues started strong, then the Sharks took control, then the Blues saw a bit of a resurgence, but ultimately, the Sharks were all over them.
Looking at the heat map, the Sharks did a pretty good job of restricting the shots on net to the area above the dots. The trouble is, when the Blues did manage to sneak in close, there were some dangerous chances. Both goals for the Blues were shots from practically in the goal crease.
The other problem for the Sharks, both of the Blues’ goals came on the power play. St. Louis went two for three on the power play. The Sharks went one for two on the man-advantage.
The Sharks were the beneficiaries of the first power play of the game. Joe Pavelski drew a tripping call in the Blues’ offensive zone. The Sharks went to work and had a few good looks, but couldn’t get it past Jake Allen, who pitched a shutout on Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings.
It was a sign of things to come. The Sharks had a number of good looks and plenty of sustained zone time, but could not beat Allen.
Tempers flared around the 9:00 mark of the first period. Marcus Sorensen made a nice stick lift in the neutral zone and picked up the puck. He went the other way, but the Sharks were offside entering the zone. Mackenzie MacEachern hit Sorensen a split second after the whistle and No. 20 took exception. He laid one too many cross-checks on MacEachern and was told to sit for two minutes.
Patrick Maroon scored the team’s first power play goal on that power play with assists from Colton Parayko and Vincent Dunn. Jones made the initial save, but Maroon was right there on the doorstep. He was the one with the quickest hands and it went in. 1-0, Blues.
Instead of pushing back to try and tie the game, the Sharks took another penalty. This time it was Kevin Labanc headed to the box for high sticking.
San Jose killed the penalty, but St. Louis had the momentum and it was an uphill battle to get it back. But when you’re in trouble, call on Captain America. Pavelski drew another penalty, this time when Joel Edmundson was called for holding the stick. The Sharks had some great looks on the power play and finally managed to put one past Allen.
With some sustained zone time, Tim Heed put a shot on net from the point. Joe Thornton picked up the rebound on the end boards and then found Timo Meier below the dots. Meier beat Allen to tie up the game.
With the primary assist, Thornton tied Stan Mikita on the all-time points list with 1,467.
With less than a minute to play in the period, the top line of Logan Couture, Pavelski and Meier were back on the ice. After picking the puck up in their own zone, they took it all the way down to the other end. Behind the St. Louis net, Couture dished a no look, behind the back pass to Meier, who was once again below the dots. Meier did some quick work with his hands and beat Allen.
The Sharks finished off the first period with a 2-1 lead.
San Jose had a number of chances to extend the lead in the second period, but could not find the back of the net. The team controlled the play for the first 15 minutes of the period. Randy Hahn’s voice got all high and excited a number of times, but there was no goal for the Sharks.
The Blues had some opportunities of their own and really started pushing back in the final five minutes of the period. Zach Sanford had a couple of opportunities stopped by Jones. But the real trouble came with 90 seconds left in the period when Tomas Hertl was called for hooking. The Blues had about a minute of extra time before the Sharks managed to touch the puck and the penalty was called.
With Hertl in the box and less than 30 seconds on the clock, the Sharks’ penalty killers iced the puck and it looked as though San Jose would escape the period unscathed. However, Tyler Bozak had other plans. He brought the puck into the Sharks’ zone and then dropped it back to Brayden Schenn. Schenn drove the net and took a shot. Barclay Goodrow made the initial stop, but as Goodrow tried to clear it, Schenn took the puck right off Goodrow’s stick and shot it past Jones.
The goal came with just 2.1 seconds left in the second period.
The third period had some great chances and saves on both ends of the ice, but neither team managed to score.
Check out this breakaway by Sorensen that was shut down by Allen:
It was just one of the impressive saves Allen made in the game and it was what kept the score tied when time expired.
In overtime, it was more scoring chances and more great saves until the 3:21 mark, when Hertl held onto the puck in the neutral zone to allow the Sharks time to make a change. He dished it across ice to Labanc, who crossed into the Blues’ zone and then immediately passed it to Couture. Couture passed it back and Labanc beat Allen up high.
In the words of Porky Pig, “That’s all folks.”