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Sharks rally late, edge Blues in overtime

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks had a feeling their game Saturday against the St. Louis Blues would come down to special teams.

They were right.

Brent Burns scored a power-play goal with 37.5 seconds left in overtime, lifting the Sharks to a 3-2 win against St. Louis at SAP Center and extending their home winning streak to eight games.

The Sharks didn't spend a single minute in the penalty box. The Blues, who had allowed five power-play goals on 18 attempts in their previous three games, were penalized three times.

St. Louis killed their first two penalties, but not the third.

"I think it was kind of the game we expected from them," Burns said. "We knew it was going to be physical. We call it a man's game. I think you play these big teams, the heavy teams, you expect that. It was hard in front of the net. Forwards did a great job on the boards. It usually comes down to special teams. That's kind of what we expected."

The Sharks went on a power play at 3:57 of overtime when Blues forward Alexander Steen tripped Joe Pavelski. Burns capitalized when he took a pass from Pavelski and hammered a slap shot from the point past goalie Jake Allen to the stick side for his 10th goal of the season.

"He's got a shot, doesn't he?" Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He put himself in a good position, created a shooting lane. The pass was in his wheelhouse. He just pounded away at it. It's hard to stop a shot that fast and that quick."

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored with 20.6 seconds left in regulation, tying the game 2-2. With Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi out of the net, Vlasic took a cross-ice pass from Joe Thornton and beat Allen with a shot from above the left circle that bounced off St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo's skate.

"We found a way to get a late goal, but we had a lot of opportunities before that, and it was nice to get the win the way we did," Vlasic said.

Andrew Desjardins also scored for the Sharks, and Antti Niemi made 18 saves. The Sharks (19-11-4) won their fifth in a row overall.

Patrik Berglund and Steve Ott scored for St. Louis. Allen made 27 saves.

St. Louis (21-9-3) fell for the second straight game. The Blues blew a 3-0 lead in a 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

"That's a bad penalty," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Steen's trip of Pavelski. "But the goal against to tie the game is heartbreaking. We got beat on the boards earlier in the game. The last two games have been disappointing from the checking standpoint.

"We had both teams on the ropes, and our inability to check at the right time, our body position and everything has hurt us. It's not closing games. It's checking. When we're checking properly, with the offense we have, we're going to beat teams."

After a scoreless first period, San Jose took a 1-0 lead on Desjardins' goal at 10:47 of a wide-open second. Sharks defenseman Justin Braun banked a long pass off the left boards to a streaking Desjardins, who beat Allen with a sharp-angled shot from the left circle that snuck inside the left post.

"I was just kind of getting it there," Desjardins said. "I was kind of more looking five-hole and I think it went under his blocker. It's just one of those things, try to keep your feet moving and shoot it quick and good things happen."

St. Louis answered with goals by Berglund and Ott to take a 2-1 lead. Berglund scored at 14:29, knocking in a rebound with a sweeping backhand after Niemi made a pad save of Pietrangelo's slap shot from the blue line.

Ott put St. Louis ahead 2-1 at 17:21 with his first goal since being traded to the Blues from the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 28. He snapped a 58-game goal-less streak, 54 with St. Louis.

Ott took a long pass from Maxim Lapierre and scored on a breakaway, beating Niemi to the glove side. He hadn't scored since Feb. 3. Until Vlasic scored, it looked as though Ott had a game-winner.

"The most disappointing part of it is team-wise we played extremely well and we didn't get the job done," Ott said. "Collectively we made some mistakes and, unfortunately, those mistakes happened late in the game and in overtime. We have to clean ourselves up and we have to play better and find ways to close games out." .

After being outshot 8-2 in the first period, the Sharks outshot St. Louis 17-9 in the second.

Coming off a rough start against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, Niemi made a handful of clutch saves in the first period.

Blues captain David Backes, playing in his 600th career game, had two shots in the first period, including a dangerous chance from the left circle roughly five minutes into the game.

The Sharks entered the game averaging 10.5 first-period shots, but they didn't record a shot Saturday until 16:22 when Barclay Goodrow was denied from 46 feet. Patrick Marleau had the Sharks' best scoring chance of the period, but Allen stopped his shot from the right circle.

After the first period, the Sharks outshot St. Louis 28-12 the rest of the way, capping a 5-0-0 homestand.

"We have to be happy with it, the point production and the game, the way we're playing," McLellan said. "We played a good team tonight. Gave up 12 shots in the last two periods and overtime, which is a good thing for our club now."

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