ST. LOUIS -– Beginning a stretch of three straight games in tough Central Division buildings, the Sharks downed the Blues at Scottrade Center on Thursday, 3-1.
Joonas Donskoi, Joe Thornton and Matt Nieto were San Jose’s goal scorers, and Martin Jones was outstanding in net with 26 saves. The Sharks improved to 9-1-2 in their last 12, and are 1-1 on a four-game road trip coming out of the All-Star break.
The Sharks jumped out to a 2-0 second period lead, and both were set up by Joe Pavelski.
Coming across the blue line with the puck Pavelski drew two defenders, including Jay Bouwmeester, before sliding the puck to Donskoi to his right. Donskoi had time to shoot and found space through Brian Elliott at 3:55 of the middle frame.
Thornton’s 10th goal during a four-on-four, just after a Sharks power play expired, upped the lead. The Sharks worked the puck around the offensive zone, and Pavelski pushed the puck through the slot to an open Thornton, who had a wide open net to whip it home at 7:15.
Bouwmeester made up for his earlier error by getting the Blues on the board before the end of the second. He lifted a wrist shot towards the net that hit the blade of Paul Martin’s stick and bounded through Jones at 16:54. Martin was attempting to body the dangerous Vladimir Tarasenko when he inadvertently tipped the floating disc.
Nieto tallied a key insurance goal with 3:16 to go in the third, charging towards the crease and jamming home a loose puck for his seventh score.
Jones was outstanding in net. His best stops came on Tarasenko, including a diving save in the second minute of the first period to keep the game scoreless, and another on a wrist shot from the high slot early in the third with the Sharks protecting a slim 2-1 lead.
St. Louis lost to a Pacific Division team for just the second time this season (8-2-1). The Sharks improved to 6-6-1 against the Central.
The Sharks and Blues meet again on Feb. 22 at Scottrade Center, while St. Louis visits San Jose on March 22.
Technically the Sharks finished 0-for-4 with a man advantage, although Thornton’s goal was essentially on the power play.
The Blues finished 0-for-2, and are 0-for-19 in their last seven games.
Jones made his sixth straight start, and improved to 8-1-1 in his last 10 starts overall.
Elliott was playing in his 11th straight game, with starter Jake Allen still out due to injury. He allowed three goals on 32 shots.
Pavelski, who finished with a pair of helpers, has 31 points in 26 road games this season (15g, 16a).
Donskoi has at least one point in seven of his last eight games (2g, 6a).
Dainius Zubrus was playing against the Blues for the first time since a failed tryout early in the season when St. Louis signed Martin Havlat instead. Havlat, bought out by the Sharks after the 2013-14 season, has since departed the club.
The Sharks are in Nashville on Saturday to take on the Predators. Nashville won the first meeting on Oct. 28 in San Jose, 2-1. The four-game road trip ends next Tuesday in Chicago.
Pass and finnish. pic.twitter.com/yOOmS8m9Td— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) February 5, 2016