Donskoi, Thornton lead Sharks past Blues
San Jose improves to 17-7-2 away from homeby Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent
ST. LOUIS -- Joonas Donskoi and Joe Thornton scored 3:20 apart in the second period, and the San Jose Sharks continued their dominance on the road by defeating the St. Louis Blues 3-1 at Scottrade Center on Thursday.
The Sharks (27-19-4) improved to a Western Conference-leading 17-7-2 away from SAP Center; they are 7-1-1 in their past nine road games and 9-1-2 in their past 12 overall.
Matt Nieto scored late in the third period, Joe Pavelski had two assists and Martin Jones made 26 saves.
"It's tough to win let alone on the road so it's a good sign," Jones said. "I think the last month, we've been playing very well, even at home, so it's good to see things coming together here.
San Jose is 19-0-2 when leading after two periods.
Video: SJS@STL: Nieto slides puck under Elliott for goal
"Anytime you get goal support, that helps. You look at the stats, every single team in the League is the same. [You're] just a better team when you have the lead and you score first. Those were important goals for sure."
Sharks coach Peter DeBoer was pleased with the effort.
"Great formula for a road win. Goaltending was great, good special teams and we got contributions from everybody," he said.
The offensively challenged Blues (29-17-8), who have scored five goals in five games, got a goal from Jay Bouwmeester, and Brian Elliott made 29 saves.
Video: SJS@STL: Bouwmeester scores on slap shot from point
St. Louis is 2-2-1 despite averaging one goal per game during that span.
"It's human nature when it's not happening for you," Bouwmeester said. "You get a little antsy, but when we are playing well, we are creating chances. It's just a matter of putting them in. We've got to find a way."
Coach Ken Hitchcock said after the morning skate Thursday that he felt the goals were on the verge of coming for the Blues, and the first period was a microcosm of what has been happening. The Blues are creating chances with little results.
"Today, the first period was the best period we played in a long time," Hitchcock said after his team had 13 shots. "It was a great period, and then we got away from it in the second and gave them the momentum. We funneled pucks at the net, we put shots at [Jones'] feet, we had lots of scoring chances close at the net, and then we got frustrated and started making plays rather than continuing with that program and so we ended up with lot of zone time but mostly playing sideways rather than that attack mode that we did in the first period."
Video: SJS@STL: Jones stones Tarasenko in front
Donskoi's first goal in four games put the Sharks up 1-0. After an offensive zone turnover by the Blues' fourth line, Pavelski raced through the middle of the ice and flipped a backhand pass to Donskoi, who beat Elliott from the right circle short side 3:55 into the second period.
Thornton's 4-on-4 goal at 7:15 put the Sharks ahead 2-0. He beat a sliding Elliott with a one-time shot from the right circle. It was Thornton's 49th point (12 goals, 37 assists) in 45 games against St. Louis.
"The first one, [Donskoi] basically double-hit it in the air," Elliott said. "It's not what you're expecting as a goalie, hard to react to, and then on Thornton's goal too, if I didn't even move, it probably would have just hit me. That's frustrating as a goalie."
The Blues cut the deficit in half when Bouwmeester's shot from the left point looking for a tip from Vladimir Tarasenko actually deflected off defenseman Paul Martin's stick and past Jones with 3:06 remaining in the second. It was Bouwmeester's first goal in 37 games.
But Nieto's sealed the win when he scored on a backhand shot with 3:16 remaining after he won a loose puck with Colton Parayko.
"I saw (the puck) in a couple of skates there and was able to get it out of that scrum," Nieto said. "Everyone was kind of eye-watching the scrum and I found a way to get in behind and make a move right in front of the goalie there."
A scoreless first period produced ended with 29 combined shots, 16 by San Jose.
Jones was good early, and his best save came on Tarasenko right in front just over a minute into the game.
"I love his game right now," DeBoer said of Jones. "I love the feeling he gives our team. The composure that he's playing with is contagious to our group. He's doing a good job for us."
Elliott made several strong stops, including one on Pavelski's one-timer during the Sharks' first power play midway through the period and then a flurry of saves in the final seconds.
The Blues allowed the same number of shots to the Sharks in the first period as they did in 60 minutes of a 1-0 shutout victory against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.