The St. Louis Blues (4-1) dropped their first game of the season Tuesday night, losing 6-2 to the still unbeaten San Jose Sharks (6-0). The Blues streak of 10 straight wins at Scottrade Center came to an abrupt and messy end as Antti Niemi carried a shutout well into the 3rd period. The Sharks piled up a five-goal lead before Vladi Tarasenko finally put the Blues on the scoreboard. St. Louis also got a rare goal from Roman Polak, while Brian Elliott saw his first action of the season, replacing Jaroslav Halak for the final 20 minutes.
A highly touted matchup of undefeated teams with some history of bad blood turned ugly early when new Blues forward Maxim Lapierre rubbed out Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle in the corner along the boards just five minutes into the game. Boyle hit his face along the seam where the glass meets wood and had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher. Lapierre was given a 5-minute major penalty for hitting from behind and a game misconduct.
Chaos ensued as San Jose players immediately went after Lapierre, resulting in a scrum near center ice. Fights broke out, ending with Ryan Reaves and Matt Pelech also being tossed from the game, and Andrew Desjardins earning himself a 10-minute misconduct for his fight with Lapierre.
Thankfully, Boyle seems to be recovering, and is apparently flying to meet his team in Dallas. Some say he may even play Thursday night. I don’t believe Lapierre had any intention of injuring anyone, though I feel he should’ve been more aware of where he and Boyle were before finishing his check. It’s a fast, often brutal game, and opinions will differ as to the intention of the hit. Some of the Sharks publicly bashed Lapierre for it, even going so far as to say he “shouldn’t be in the game.”
“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 Sharks center Logan Couture, who had a goal and an assist. “(Lapierre) has got a history.” (via ESPN.com)
The Sharks scored twice on the major power-play, and the game went downhill from there for St. Louis. San Jose did all the things that the Blues had been able to do during their four-game winning streak- winning face-offs and killing penalties. The Sharks were three for seven with the man-advantage and out-shot St. Louis 39-27. San Jose did a great job blocking shots and clogging up shooting/passing lanes, giving the Blues very little room to work in the offensive zone.
Uninspired play from the Blues defense and a rough outing from Halak put the Blues in a 5-0 hole, which was too deep to climb out of. Elliott showed his rust, giving up another power-play goal late in the 3rd, and St. Louis fell into some old bad habits- getting caught flat-footed in their own zone and shooting pucks wide of the net.
Tarasenko and line-mate Jaden Schwartz continued to impress, even in defeat. Both skated hard and played tough, two-way hockey. It may have been Tarasenko’s best game yet, and he extended his personal best streak of scoring in consecutive games to four.
For those fans still reeling after last night’s beating, relax. The sky isn’t falling. San Jose is a very good team off to a blisteringly hot start, and it’s far too early in the season to fear any sort of collapse. The Blues didn’t play their game Tuesday and paid the price for it. Hopefully they can put the loss behind them quickly as they hit the road for a game in Chicago Thursday night. The Blackhawks aren’t happy about losing to the Blues last week, and will be looking to avenge Alexander Steen’s last minute game-winner.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!