ST. LOUIS – The Sharks’ emotional pendulum started swinging in a positive direction on Monday morning, when management acquired a couple needed pieces in the hopes of setting up a long playoff run.
Early in their game against the Blues, though, it changed direction when Matt Tennyson laid motionless on the ice, courtesy of a check from behind by the Blues’ Ryan Reaves.
By the end of the night, it was back going the right way again. The Sharks skated to a 6-3 win over the Blues, and Tennyson, although he’s “probably concussed” according to coach Pete DeBoer, dodged what looked like a potentially devastating situation.
“It’s always a scary play when something like that happens,” Joe Pavelski said. “He’ll get rested up and hopefully be back quicker than what it looked like.”
The play, which happened about 11 minutes into the first period, was the key moment in the Sharks’ fourth win in five games. They struck twice on the ensuing power play, including a five-on-three score to go up 3-0, and although the Blues controlled play for several stretches, the home team was never able to find the tying marker.
“After a teammate goes down and you see him on the ice and he’s kind of motionless and bleeding, you can fold the tent pretty quickly,” said Logan Couture, who scored twice. “It was nice to see us regroup around Tenny and try and win this one for him.”
Tennyson will travel with the team to Denver where the Sharks will conclude a five-game road trip. He likely would have been pushed out of the lineup for that game anyway with defenseman Roman Polak (and forward Nick Spaling) likely drawing in after a deal with Toronto.
Still, that certainly didn’t change the fact that DeBoer was displeased with the hit.
“Those are the kind of hits we’re trying to get rid of. I’m sure the league will deal with it,” said the coach.
Offensively, the Sharks were led by four points from Joe Thornton (2g, 2a), Couture’s three points (2g, 1a) and two goals from Tomas Hertl.
Coincidentally enough, Thornton’s most recent four-point effort also came in St. Louis on Oct. 15, 2013. In that game, teammate Dan Boyle had to be stretchered off of the ice after a bad hit from behind by Maxim Lapierre.
The hit on Tennyson occurred on the same end of the ice, likely sparking some bad memories. But, just like in that game, a 6-2 Sharks win, San Jose responded by scoring two goals during the major penalty.
The situation was eerily similar.
“It was,” Thornton agreed. “It was a bad hit, and for the power play to respond that way was a good thing, and going up 3-0, it’s pretty much game over after that.”
Still, the Blues, who had won five straight, pushed. They got back to within 3-2 in the second period and seemed to be gaining steam after Vladimir Tarasenko’s power play score on a laser-like wrist shot made it 3-2. It took just 20 seconds for Couture to restore a two-goal edge at 11:45, though.
Couture now has 12 points (5g, 7a) in his last eight games. His second period score that turned out to be the game-winner was about as easy as it gets, as goalie Jake Allen lost track of a point shot that rattled around in the slot before it ended up on Couture’s stick blade.
“Yeah, it was a big goal,” Couture said. “Obviously any time you can get out there after a goal-against, you want to get the momentum back. … That’s the way things have been going right now. I’ll take those all day.”
DeBoer said: “They were grabbing some momentum there and [we] immediately snuffed it out, which was critical.”
Thornton put it away with a one-man effort to make it 5-2 at 7:26 of the third, taking the puck away from Joel Edmundson before slipping it through Allen, and then tossing a long backhander from 150 feet away into an empty net with the Blues looking to get back into the game after Jay Boewmeester's blast found the net.
The 36-year-old Thornton is now tied with Pavelski for the team lead in scoring with 55 points.
“It was good to see the guys really show up tonight,” Pavelski said. “Everyone played at a high level.”
That was encouraging to DeBoer, particularly considering how eventful the day was.
“It’s a big two points for us, especially losing a defenseman in the first period. We had some trades today and that’s always a distraction. So, you’re never sure what you’re going to get, but our guys were dialed in,” he said.