Well, that was not pretty.
The San Jose Sharks came into this game hoping to close out their five-game road trip on a high note, but seemed to do the complete opposite after putting up arguably their worst defensive game of the season so far in a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues at the Enterprise Center.
The Blues were coming off of a four-game losing streak that saw the team fall to Nashville, Carolina, Edmonton and Arizona. St. Louis had been beaten down to that point, and it didn’t look like they were in the greatest position coming into last night’s game.
In the first period, it actually looked like this would be a close game for the most part. Logan Couture performed a toe-drag at the point, walked into the gap, and shot it low on Blues goaltender Ville Husso to make it 1-0. However, after video review, it was determined that Jonathan Dahlen was just inches offside, and therefore the goal was called back.
Later in the period, Kevin Labanc took a tripping penalty off of something that looked like an unintentional, but dangerous, slew foot. On the ensuing power play, the Blues worked the Sharks and made a ton of crisp passes, which led to Brandon Saad burying it for the first good goal of the game.
Just like the Sharks’ last game against the Minnesota Wild, the second period is where things began to collapse. Early in the period, rookie defenseman Scott Perunovich skated along the boards and dropped a pass back to Pavel Buchnevich who got it over to Robert Thomas in the slot for a goal to put the Blues up 2-0.
Midway through the second period is where the Sharks finally broke through. Timo Meier sent a pass to the front of the net to Dahlen, who scored to cut the Blues’ lead in half. The assist on the goal extended Meier’s current point streak to four games.
Dahlen cuts the lead in half pic.twitter.com/i6DoiC1dfX— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) November 19, 2021
Just a couple of minutes after the Sharks broke through, however, the Blues managed to mount a 2-on-1 with Oskar Sundqvist sending it over to Saad, who scored his second goal of the game to put the Blues up, 3-1.
The third period really wasn’t anything for the Sharks, as an early goal by Jordan Kyrou, which was Reimer’s one weak goal allowed last night, took all the remaining energy they had out of them. They glided around for the final 20 minutes of the game, looking ineffective and ready to get on the plane back to San Jose.
One thing that has been a re-occurring theme for the Sharks as of late is their penalty kill to power play ratio. They didn’t receive a single power play opportunity last night, but were forced to kill four penalties against the Blues' second-ranked unit. This team’s discipline, especially when they’re not playing their best hockey, is just not enough and they need to take control of that, as it is costing them games.
While there weren’t many bright spots for the Sharks last night, in my opinion, they did have the best player on either side of the ice last night in James Reimer. He stopped 44 of 48 shots that came his way, posting a .917 save percentage and 0.15 goals saved above expected (GSAx), which is extremely impressive considering the fact that he let in four goals and still managed to boast positive statistics.
In net for the Blues, Husso stopped 26 of 27 shots that came his way and put up a 1.99 GSAx. He also had a good night, not to be overshadowed by a great performance from Reimer.
If I were a betting man, I would say that Santeri Hatakka likely doesn't get into the line up on Saturday. The young defender didn’t play great, posting a 39.24 expected goals percentage, and wasn’t really noticeable — aside from when he didn’t apply enough pressure on Peronuvich on the boards during that second Blues goal.
At what point do you start worrying about the Sharks’ goal scoring issues? On this road trip, they were outscored 16-12 through five games and failed to score more than two goals in three of them. Their defense isn’t good enough to consistently win without scoring, which was put on display tonight. It’s just five games out of an 82-game season, but it’s just something I’ve noticed.
All-in-all, this is definitely a game that the Sharks are likely hoping to forget about. With a four-game homestand back in San Jose before another five-game road trip, it’ll be good for them to get back to the familiarity of SAP Center.