ST. LOUIS -- The San Jose Sharks won the battle of the unbeatens, but that was furthest from their minds after the game.
The Sharks downed the St. Louis Blues 6-2 Tuesday night at Scottrade Center, but were worried about the status of teammate Dan Boyle afterwards. Boyle was taken off on a stretcher early in the first period following a hit by the Blues' Maxim Lapierre, who was ejected for checking from behind.
A Sharks spokesperson said Boyle was alert and responsive on the way to the hospital and will be held overnight for observation.
Sharks captain Joe Thornton was one of the first players on the ice.
"He wasn't [saying anything] and that's what was so scary," Thornton said. "I've never seen a guy be like that before. It just takes your breath away. He wasn't responding or anything. It was very, very scary."
Several Sharks players were critical of Lapierre afterwards.
"It's just disgusting to see that type of play in hockey, when a player that probably shouldn't even be in this League is taking out one of the best players in the world," said center Logan Couture, who had a goal and an assist. "[Lapierre] has got a history."
Added Joe Pavelski, who scored his first goal of the season: "Dan is a world-class defenseman ... [Lapierre saw] straight numbers [in front of him]. There's guys in the League that will target that ... it doesn't matter, they'll just go. It [stinks]. Guys responded appropriately."
Sharks coach Todd McLellan, whose team improved to 6-0-0, gave the good news of Boyle's status.
"He left and he went to the hospital and from what I understand, he's doing OK," McLellan said. "A very scary moment, needless. It doesn't have to happen in our game. It doesn't have to happen."
Blues captain David Backes also expressed his concern afterwards.
"No one in their right mind would ever want that to happen to another guy," Backes said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Dan Boyle and his family. That's a scary thing, it's something you hope never happens. Hopefully he has a speedy recovery and he's back on the ice soon."
Added Blues left wing Alex Steen, who stuck up for his teammate: "The whole situation is tough to watch. Everybody felt badly.
"[Lapierre] didn't do anything on purpose, nobody wants to see stuff like that. He's obviously going to feel bad, but it's something that happens, an accident."
The Sharks got a goal and three assists from Thornton, Patrick Marleau had a goal and two assists, Couture had a goal and an assist, Pavelski, Tommy Wingels and Scott Hannan also scored, and Antti Niemi stopped 25 shots as San Jose improved to 6-0-0, tying the Sharks with the Colorado Avalanche for the NHL's best record.
The Blues dropped to 4-1-0 and saw their 10-game regular-season home winning streak snapped as the Sharks won in dominating fashion. Jaroslav Halak also suffered his first defeat of the season, stopping 22 shots before he was replaced by Brian Elliott to start the third period. It was Elliott's first action of the season.
"I haven't really looked at it that closely on the video to be honest with you, so I don't want to comment on it until I looked at it a few times," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of the hit on Boyle. "I don't think that had anything to do with the outcome today. One team played hard and smart.
"It's tough because it's Dan Boyle and there's so much respect in this office because of history with Dan. We're hoping that he's OK, but I think from the standpoint of the game, I'm more concerned with the way we reacted to getting [outplayed] hard. That's what I'm more concerned with. I'm more concerned with ... we had a comment this morning about embracing the difficulty of the game because we knew it was going to be difficult and I think our reaction was, not from that incident but in general, we didn't show the competitive composure that you need to keep the game close, things like that. We let it get away. So that's a lesson."
After the Boyle injury, 79 minutes in penalties were handed out in the first period.
Lapierre was assessed a five-minute major for checking from behind as well as a fighting major and a game misconduct. Teammate Ryan Reaves and San Jose forward Matt Pelech received fighting majors and game misconducts. Andrew Desjardins was originally awarded a fighting major and 10-minute game misconduct but the call was changed to a 10-minute misconduct and he was able to return for the second period.
Later in the period, San Jose's Brent Burns checked the Blues' Brenden Morrow from behind into the boards; he got a two-minute boarding penalty, much to the displeasure of the Blues fans. Morrow returned and Hitchcock said afterwards he was OK.
The Sharks took a 2-0 lead on power-play goals 48 seconds apart by Couture and Pavelski. Both goals came from the left circle. Couture's goal at 9:37 came in the final minute of Lapierre's penalty and put the Blues behind on home ice for the first time in the regular season since April 16, 2013, a stretch of 568:47.
Pavelski one-timed his first of the season on the short side past Halak three seconds after a two-man advantage for the Sharks expired.
The Sharks continued to pour it on in the second period, getting goals from Wingels and Hannan to grab a four-goal lead. Wingels scored on a wraparound off the skate of Blues defenseman Barret Jackman at 8:34, and Hannan scored his first of the season off a slapper with 2:43 left in the period for a 4-0 lead.
Thornton made it 5-0 on a shot from the slot, beating Elliott 5:06 into the third period off a pass from rookie Tomas Hertl, who has nine points in six games.
"They were on the right side of the puck all night and they did it with tenacity and we weren't ready for it," Hitchcock said. "So no matter how much you talk about it, we had to experience it and now how do we go from here and move forward? That's the thing."
Vladimir Tarasenko ended Niemi's shutout bid with his fourth goal in as many games when he hammered home a rebound off a Jaden Schwartz shot at 7:23 of the third period. Roman Polak scored his second goal in the past two seasons when he one-timed a shot from the low slot past Niemi off a feed from Derek Roy with 7:32 remaining to make it 5-2. It was Roy's fifth point in five games.
Marleau added his fifth of the season and the Sharks' third power-play goal with 2:54 remaining and put a stamp on a game the Sharks played for their teammate.
"Your heart kind of drops," Thornton said. "It's tough seeing a teammate go down like that. We had to give a good effort for Dan tonight. I've never seen that before, you're just kind of sitting on the bench hoping Dan is OK. It takes a while to kind of get back focused again."