The thrill of victory as the San Jose Sharks Evander Kane (9) scores the game winning goal in overtime and is congratulated by teammates Erik Karlsson (center) and Logan Couture (39) at SAP Center in San Jose on Mon Mar 8, 2021 (AP News photo)
By Matthew Harrington
The San Jose Sharks rallied from a 2-1 deficit entering the third period to beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in overtime Monday night. Evander Kane scored the game-winner 41 seconds into extra time after Devan Dubnyk’s aggressive work in net, Logan Couture scored the game-tying goal and Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored his first of the year in the win. Ryan Donato assisted on both goals for the Sharks (9-11-3) who wrapped up a 7-game homestand going 2-4-1. Brayden Schenn and Niko Mikkola scored for the Blues (14-8-4).
O’Reilly had the game on his stick, but Dubnyk challenged him before he could even put the puck on net in overtime. Erik Karlsson was able to pick up the loose puck and race down the right wing before feeding Kane on the left wing crossing into the Blues zone. From there, Kane had a clear lane to the net before, sniping the puck past Ville Husso for his ninth goal of the year.
San Jose tied the game 7:58 into the third on the power play after Rudolfs Balcers worked the puck to Ryan Donato in the corner. Donato worked his way into the net-front, trying to backhand the puck past Husso. The rebound bounced to Couture, who managed to have it flick off the boot of his skate and into the net for his division-leading 13th goal of the year.
“I thought we competed harder in that third,” said Couture. ” The first two periods we weren’t getting offense going. We had 10 or 11 shots after the second. We earned some power plays, were able to get a power play goal and then that big goal by (Evander Kane) in overtime.”
San Jose was trailing entering the period after a pair of seeing-eye goals by St. Louis sandwiched around Vlasic’s marker. Niko Mikkola scored his first career NHL goal after his shot deflected into the net off a skater in Dubnyk’s line of sight 4:16 into the game.
Vlasic converted on a Donato feed exactly seven minutes into the second, his first goal since December of 2019. Then Schenn gave the Blues a 2-1 edge on the power play after David Perron’s shot knicked him crossing the goal mouth.
“We thought that in the first period we fought pretty hard,” said Sharks coach Bob Boughner. “We thought we were maybe a little ahead on the chances. We felt good. In the second, we were building some momentum with two or three shifts in a row then we just took penalty after penalty and it ruined our flow.”
The Sharks ran into penalty trouble throughout the night, with Kevin Labanc picking up two of the four minors for the Sharks. He found himself slipping further and further down the lineup, ultimately sitting out the entirety of the third period and overtime.
“I think the message was sent with me sitting him for the period,” said Boughner. “I talked to him earlier in the game about working away from the puck. I showed him a couple clips on the bench on the ipad.
He just wasn’t engaged enough. I didn’t believe that he could help us tonight with what I saw. Someone else is going to get that opportunity. We have to have that kind of accountability in our game. For me that starts with ice time.”
While Labanc didn’t have an impact in the final 21 minutes of play, Dubnyk stood tall in net for the Sharks. He saved 24 of 26 St. Louis shots along with snuffing out the last Blues rush that arguably should have earned him an assist on the game-winning goal.
His performance sets up an intriguing match-up question when the Sharks start a four-game road trip Friday night in Anaheim. The Sharks will play back-to-back games against the Ducks, then face Vegas in the desert on Monday and Wednesday.
Both goalies will probably split the first two games, but questions remain if Boughner will split the remaining games against Vegas or give both to whoever is hot.
Notes: Tomas Hertl is expected to resume skating on Tuesday, he could be available to return after missing the last six games due to Covid-19…Timo Meier’s status is less clear. He sat out Monday’s game, his second straight scratch with an injury….Kurtis Gabriel was spotted jawing with St. Louis tough guy Kyle Clifford in warm-ups. The two dropped gloves in the first period. Gabriel now leads the team with two fighting majors…Coach Bob Boughner celebrated his 50th birthday Monday night with a nice gift from the team, two points…John Leonard found himself on the top line with Labanc’s demotions and didn’t look entirely out of place, playing with more confidence with the puck.