It took a little more than 20 games, but Erik Karlsson finally had one break and most certainly in his favour.
Karlsson wired home a Logan Couture rebound on an early second period Sharks power play to open the scoring and the Sharks added two more in the next four minutes and 11 seconds en route to a 4-0 win over the visiting St. Louis Blues.
After what was a mostly nondescript first period, the Sharks took some momentum into the second on a late Blues penalty and came out very strong to start the period. The Sharks power play hemmed in the Blues penalty killers for the remaining 1:39 of the David Perron penalty, generating numerous scoring chances and eventually drawing a second Blues penalty just as the first one had expired. It was there that the unit comprised of Evander Kane, Joe Pavelski, Kevin Labanc, Couture and Karlsson turned a disjointed power play around.
Kane found a driving Couture, who swung a shot towards the net, creating a rebound that slid right out into the high slot. Karlsson walked in and hammered it past the Blues goalie, Chad Johnson, and you could sense his relief as he celebrated in front of the Sharks bench. It was Karlsson’s first goal since joining the Sharks in October’s training camp, despite being fifth on the team in shots coming into tonight’s game with 58.
The Sharks quickly went back to work and after goals by Pavelski and Kane, staked themselves to a 3-0 lead by the middle of the period. A second Pavelski goal in the third period off a gorgeous 2-on-1 play by Couture all but sealed it for Team Teal. Karlsson (2), Pavelski (2), Kane (2), Meier (2) and Couture (3) all had multi-point nights on an evening where the Sharks probably played their strongest 60 minutes of the year.
At the other end, Aaron Dell was solid, making 30 saves and getting his first shutout of the season. The Blues made a push at the start of the third period, but Dell was there when his skills were needed most. More importantly, the Sharks team defense was also much stronger than it had been earlier in the week.
They did not allow a tired Blues team much of anything in terms of odd man advantages and Dell was only called on a handful of times to make anything more than a routine save. A Vladimir Tarasenko opportunity in the third period was probably his biggest competition of the night, of which he was up to the challenge and came out standing successful.
- The Sharks improved their regular season record to 11-7-3, maintaining their 2 point lead in the Pacific Division. They also improved their record to 3-1 on their season long six game homestand.
- Tomas Hertl missed his second straight game with a lower body injury.
- Dylan Gambrell was recalled from the San Jose Barracuda and played center on the Sharks fourth line. Rourke Chartier was reassigned to the Barracuda to make room for Gambrell.
- Despite not factoring in on the score sheet, the Sharks line of Joe Thornton, Marcus Sorensen and Labanc were a strong presence in the offensive zone.
- The Sharks are now off until Tuesday, when they welcome Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers to SAP Centre.