Burns' hat trick powers Sharks past Blues
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Brent Burns continues to prove his importance to the San Jose Sharks.
The defenseman-converted-to-forward collected his first career hat trick to enable the Sharks to beat the St. Louis Blues 6-3 on Friday afternoon.
San Jose, winner of four straight, improved to 11-0-1 with Burns in the lineup this season. San Jose has outscored opponents 54-22 with Burns and are 6-3-4 with a 32-30 edge in goals during the 13 games the right winger missed with an injury.
"What can we say about that guy," Sharks right winger Tommy Wingels said. "He's a big, strong guy out there. And he creates momentum for the team, creates space for other players and he can score goals here and there."
Burns converted a power-play goal at 12:19, just 60 seconds after the Blues cut a four-goal deficit to one. Burns has eight goals and 13 points in 12 games this season.
"He's so big and so strong, and he has such a good shot," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "He just has so much fun out there. I have a smile on my face because the stuff he does out there is amazing."
The Blues saw their five-game winning streak end as they absorbed their second loss in as many tries against San Jose, which has scored 12 goals against normally stingy St. Louis.
"They just took it to us," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They weren't ready to go. It was my responsibility. They weren't ready to go."
St. Louis converted a power-play goal on its sixth attempt as center David Backes beat San Jose goalie Antti Niemi at 2:02 of the third period to cut the deficit to two goals.
St. Louis possessed the puck in the Sharks' end for the entire 1:21 after defenseman Brad Stuart tripped right winger Vladimir Tarasenko.
When Jaden Schwartz capped a two-on-one break with his sixth goal at 11:19 as the teams skated four-on-four, the deficit was one goal. Schwartz extended his scoring streak to six games that includes three goals and four assists.
"There was a little frustration," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We had chances to finish them off, but we didn't and we got sloppy at times. They're a first-place club for a reason, and they're not going away."
Defenseman Kevin Shattebnkirk held Thornton, and the Sharks struck for the second time on the power play with Burns scoring his third goal of the game at 12:19 through a Joe Pavelski screen and past Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak.
"You have to score there," Thornton said. "You don't know what's going to happen with the goalie pulled late."
San Jose rookie right winger Tomas Hertl added an empty-net goal -- his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
"We gained a little back in the second and third, but too little too late," Backes said.
The Sharks were ready for the early start, unlike the Blues who had already been blown out once this season by San Jose (6-2 on Oct. 15 in St. Louis).
San Jose scored four times and outshot St. Louis 12-2 in the opening 20 minutes.
"We just looked real, real, real sharp at the start of the game," Thornton said.
St. Louis defenseman Ian Cole said, "To spot them four goals is ridiculous. Especially a team like that that is so good that we knew we needed to play well against them. We just didn't deliver."
Burns scored the first of two first-period goals just 35 seconds after the opening faceoff to mark the ninth time the Sharks have scored in the first two minutes of a game. Blues defenseman Barret Jackman tuned the puck over to San Jose center Logan Couture and left winger Patrick Marleau fed an open Burns in front.
The Sharks halted a power-play drought when Thornton scored his fourth goal of the season at 3:01, 54 seconds into Shattenkirk's minor for interfering with right winger Mike Brown. San Jose was 0-for-14 and had scored only one power-play goal during its last 16 tries in five games.
Burns gave the Sharks a three-goal edge before the midway point of the period by capping a line rush with one-timer after a cross-ice feed from Thornton. The Blues used their timeout at 9:14, having surrendered eight of the game's first nine shots.
Wingels finished the onslaught with a half-speed shot from the right side that slipped through the glove of starting Blues goalie Brian Elliott on the near post. St. Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester failed to hold a puck in at the San Jose line.
Couture assisted on three of the four goals.
""Helluva period, really happy with it," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It was a really good start."
"Great for them for coming out so hard but we need to have a better response," Backes said. "Scoring the first minute they scored and couple of more minutes on the power play and really just punched us in the mouth in that first period."
The Blues got it going in the second period, especially during the last 10 minutes of the session. The visitors broke through at 11:03 when defenseman Ian Cole finished a 3-on-2 break with his first goal of the season as the teams were skating 4-on-4.
The Sharks marched to the penalty box three times in the period as center Joe Pavelski, left winger Martin Havlat and defenseman Dan Boyle committed minors. Niemi was on his game during the short-handed situations, and he had luck on his side.
Center Derek Roy hit the near post halfway through the Blues' third power-play of the period and fifth of the game. Niemi gloved Cole's long shot at the end of the same advantage when the visitors were looking to cut the deficit in half.
Niemi was good early in the period as well, making a pad save on right winger T.J. Oshie 34 seconds into the period and denying Tarasenko during a two-on-one break at 4:30.
Jaroslav Halak relieved Elliott at the start of the period in the St. Louis goal. He stopped all 12 shots he faced in the second period.
"Conditions are the same for both teams," Jackman said. "We got to be better prepared. We knew what they did in St. Louis and they came out and had the same game plan. They executed and we didn't."
NOTES: The four-goal start boosted San Jose's first-period dominance over opponents to 36-13. ... The two teams came into Saturday's game with the best winning percentages in the NHL -- St. Louis at .813 and San Jose .771. ... RW Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery) and Rw Adam Burish (back surgery) continue to rehab injuries for the Sharks while D Jordan Leopold (finger surgery) and RW Ryan Reaves (broken hand) remain out for the Blues. ... The Sharks conclude a season-long five-game homestand on Saturday when they host Anaheim. ... St. Louis caps a three-game trip in Los Angeles on Monday. ... D Jason Demers, LW James Sheppard and RW John McCarthy were healthy scratches for San Jose while D Carlo Colaiacovo and RW Adam Cracknell did not dress for St. Louis.