ST. LOUIS – Brent Burns’ first goal of the year in his return to the lineup wasn’t enough for the Sharks to overcome the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night at Scottrade Center. The Blues captured the final game of the season series, 4-2.
It was the Sharks' fourth straight loss (0-2-2).
Burns, primarily a defenseman in his nine-year NHL career, lined up as a forward after missing the past seven games with a left leg injury. He cut into the Blues’ 2-0 lead when his one-timer at 11:41 of the second period trickled through goaltender Jake Allen.
From there, the Sharks came in waves, controlling the puck territorially in the Blues’ zone while searching for the equalizer. Their best chance to tie came with Joe Thornton staring down an open net from close range, but his shot attempt was knocked away by a St. Louis stick with 3:05 to go in the frame. That capped a one-minute span in which the Sharks registered four shots on goal, and had another six blocked.
It cost them late in the period. The game-winning goal came with just seven seconds left, when Barret Jackman tossed a weak backhander towards the net that Antti Niemi kicked right to Chris Porter. Porter fired in his first of the season to make it 3-1 at the intermission.
The Sharks cut into the lead with a goal on a two-man advantage at 13:32 of the third. Jackman’s dangerous hit from behind of Logan Couture gave the Sharks 54 seconds on a five-on-three, and it took Dan Boyle just four seconds to drill a one-timer past Allen, who got a piece of it with his glove.
That was all San Jose could muster, though, as the team failed to score three goals in regulation for the 14th time in the last 15 games. The Sharks (11-8-6) are just 4-8-6 since starting the season with seven straight wins.
The Sharks trailed 1-0 when St. Louis increased the deficit to two. Ryane Clowe nearly tied it when his backhand shot hit the post, but instead the Blues raced up the other way. Patrik Berglund found himself with the puck at the point, and he sent it down low to David Perron, who was open at the side of the net. Perron was unable to get his stick on it, but got a fortunate bounce off of his skate and over the goal line at 10:39.
Burns’ goal came just 62 seconds later. It was his first point in seven games this season.
The Sharks poured 19 shots total on Allen in the second, and outshot the Blues for the game, 41-21.
St. Louis took a 1-0 lead at 13:42 of the first, when Chris Stewart’s wrist shot on a two-on-one beat Niemi to the far side. It was the only goal of the opening frame. Stewart’s empty-net goal capped the scoring.
The Sharks finished 1-for-3 on the power play, and killed off all three St. Louis attempts. The Blues entered the game with the second-best power play in the league.
Niemi is likely glad the season series with St. Louis is over. He was pulled from Saturday’s game against the Blues at HP Pavilion after allowing three goals to Vladimir Sobotka, and the game-winning goal on Tuesday is probably one he’s like to have back. He made 17 saves on 20 shots.
Allen beat the Sharks for the second time in four days, with 39 saves. He was making his third start in the last four games.
While Burns’ return was the most notable, Andrew Desjardins went back in after sitting out against Colorado, and TJ Galiardi was a healthy scratch again.
Marty Havlat (lower body) and Thomas Greiss (sore neck) remain out.
St. Louis’ T.J. Oshie left the game in the second period with what looked like a left arm injury, and did not return.
The Sharks face the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Thursday for the first time, at HP Pavilion. They travel to Staples Center for the second half of a back-to-back with the Kings on Saturday, kicking off a five-game road trip that stops in Anaheim, Edmonton, Minnesota and ends back in Anaheim on March 25.
The Kings won nine of their last 11 heading into Tuesday night’s game in Phoenix.