ST. LOUIS, Missouri - A healthy Martin Havlat scored twice for the Sharks, the second at 3:44 of the 2nd overtime period and Antti Niemi was excellent with 40 saves in goal as the Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in overtime at the Scottrade Center in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Thursday night.
Rookie Andrew Desjardins forced overtime for the Sharks with 5:16 remaining in the third period in what turned out to be 6th longest game in San Jose Sharks history and only the 4th decided in the 2nd overtime period. Ryane Clowe added two assists, including the primary assist on the overtime game winner.
Patrik Berglund scored his first two career playoff goals for the Blues and Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves in the loss. The Sharks look to take a 2-0 series lead on Saturday at 4:30pm (PST) at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
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Both teams tried to establish physical play early in a brisk moving scoreless first period that saw just a total of 11 shots and no penalties. Blues forward T.J. Oshie took an early run at Douglas Murray followed by Murray sending Oshie down with an open ice check in the neutral zone to set the tone. St. Louis outshot San Jose 7-1 in the first 12 minutes of play with Niemi sharp in the early going.
Desjardins had the best chance of the opening frame for San Jose by ripping a wrist shot from the left circle on the rush that was gloved by Jaroslav Halak with 7:11 remaining in the period. Defenseman Brent Burns made a nice diving sweep on an Andy McDonald chance down low with just over 90 seconds remaining in the first. The Blues outshot the Sharks 7-4 in a scoreless first period.
Each team had their first two power plays of the game in the second period as the Sharks struck first blood with a power play strike by Havlat at 6:02. Niemi was fantastic early in the middle frame with a shoulder save on a TJ Oshie rush and a flurry of huge saves late in the period to keep the Sharks ahead 1-0. With David Peron in the box for slashing at 4:23, the Sharks and their 2nd ranked power play went ahead 1-0 at 6:02 as Havlat (1st), set up to the right of the Blues net, deflected a Dan Boyle wrist shot from on top of the circles past Halak.
Clowe received the secondary assist after a nice entry into the offensive zone and a clean pass to Boyle. Alex Steen had a terrific chance to tie the score with a shorthanded rush down the left side on San Jose’s second power play as he snapped the puck from the left circle past Niemi and off the crossbar with just over four minutes left. The Blues almost tied it on their 2nd power play, but Niemi robbed a back door Alex Pietrangelo try with a terrific glove save and made several more nice stops as the Sharks survived the final few minutes of the period. San Jose led 1-0 through 40 minutes despite being outshot 20-13.
Patrik Berglund would score twice in the third period to give the Blues a 2-1 lead but it was the Sharks 4th line that would even the score late and force overtime. St. Louis started the third period as the middle frame ended, with terrific pressure deep in the San Jose zone. Just 55 seconds in, Patrik Berglund (1st) battled his way to the front of the Sharks crease and deflected a Kevin Shattenkirk wrist shot from the right point past Niemi to tie the score at 1-1.
After a nasty battle in the Blues zone which resulted to the first 4-on-4 action of the game, Burns sent a one timer shot from the left circle that broke off Halak and then off the goal post at the four minute mark. With Havlat in the box for tripping the Blues netminder at 6:31, the Blues went ahead 2-1 with a power play goal at 7:28. After defenseman Kris Russell broke up a Sharks shorthanded chance, St. Louis came barreling back with a 4-on-2 rush with Andy McDonald finding the rushing trailer Patrick Berglund (2nd) who snapped the puck through the pads of Niemi at 7:28.
San Jose had a chance to tie the score midway through the third period with their third power play opportunity but Halak made nice stops on Boyle and Clowe. The Sharks finally tied the score at 2-2 after rookie Tommy Wingels fought his way down the left wing and centered the puck to Desjardins (1st) who quickly shot the puck through Halak from on top of the crease at 14:44. San Jose outshot St. Louis 10-8 in the third period as the two teams headed to overtime tied at 2-2.
Niemi was the best player in the first overtime frame as the St. Louis Blues poured it on outshooting the Sharks 14-8. Burns had the best chance early on, joining the rush and firing a shot from the center slot that was stopped by the pads of Halak just two minutes in. Blues defenseman Barret Jackman was stopped twice in a 45 second span with under 9 minutes remaining, the first by the pad and then by the glove of Niemi both from a sharp angle from the left side.
Alex Steen almost won it for the Blues on a rush down the right wing with a quick snap shot from 40 feet that was kicked out by Niemi through a screen in front. The Sharks best chance in OT came with just over 60 seconds remaining as T.J. Galiardi swung the puck towards the net from the right corner and Torrey Mitchell deflected the puck on goal which a juicy rebound left in front which the Sharks couldn’t grab. The Blues rallied late, but Niemi stood tall as he made 14 saves in the overtime frame.
In the second overtime period, the Sharks were able to get a consistent cycle going deep in the offensive zone. After strong board work by Logan Couture and Clowe, Havlat (2nd) was able to send a blast from on top of the left circle past Jaroslav Halak’s blocker side for the game winner at 23:44 in overtime for the 3-2 Sharks victory. San Jose outshot St. Louis 3-0 in the 2nd overtime period.
Final shots were 42-34 in favor of St. Louis… Jaroslav Halak (0-1) made 31 saves on 34 shots for the St. Louis; Antti Niemi (1-0)made 40 saves on 42 shots for San Jose in his 41st Stanley Cup playoffs appearance.… San Jose went 1-for-3 on the power play while St. Louis went 1-for-3… Benn Ferriero, Michal Handzus, Jim Vandermeer, Colin White, and Brad Winchester did not dress for San Jose… I. Cole, C. Colaiacovo, B. Crombeen, M. D’Agostini, C. Porter, and J. Schwartz did not dress for St. Louis…. rookie Tommy Wingels skated in his first Stanley Cup playoff game for the Sharks on his 24th birthday and assisted in the tying goal in the third period… Martin Havlat scored his 20th and 21st career Stanley Cup playoffs goal in game 68… captain Joe Thornton challenged Blues captain David Backes to a fight at 2:41 of the third period after a scrum behind the Sharks net, Backes turned him down…. The goal by Andrew Desjardins was his 2nd career NHL playoff goal in just his 4th game…. The overtime game was the 33rd in franchise history for the Sharks in the playoffs with the Sharks now 16-17 in overtime games… Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk had a game high 11 shots on goal and added an assist… St. Louis fell to 28-26 in overtime during the playoffs.
Huskins - Pietrangelo
Jackman - Shattenkirk
Russell - Polak
Please note all games will be carried LIVE locally on CSNCA-HD / 98.5-102.1 FM KFOX and the Sharks Radio Network (all games listed PST)
Thur., April 12 GAME 1 @ St. Louis 4:30pm Sharks win 3-2 in 2nd OT
Sat., April 14 GAME 2 @ St. Louis 4:30pm
Mon., April 16 GAME 3 @ San Jose 7pm
Thur., April 19 GAME 4 @ San Jose 7:30pm
*Sat., April 21 GAME 5 @ St. Louis 4:30pm
*Mon., April 23 GAME 6 @ San Jose TBD
*Wed., April 26 GAME 7 @ St. Louis TBD