Blues win sixth in a row at home to start season as Halak blanks Sharks 2-0

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

ST. LOUIS - Joe Thornton paid a high price for what he believed was a clean check. So did the San Jose Sharks, who have trouble mustering offence these days even with their scoring leader on the ice.

David Perron recovered from Thornton's elbow to the head with a goal that helped the St. Louis Blues win their sixth in a row at home to start the season in a 2-0 victory on Thursday night.

"I asked the guys who hit me actually, because I didn't know who it was," Perron said. "Obviously, Joe's not a dirty player. It's good I got to score a goal and it was a big one for us."

Thornton, who has 15 points in 12 games, didn't think he did anything wrong. Just the same, he missed the last 34:31.

"I felt like I established myself on the ice," Thornton said. "I just braced myself for the hit. He just ran into me, to be honest with you."

Perron scored his fifth goal of the season late in the second period for a two-goal cushion, swatting in a backhander after T.J. Oshie's shot deflected off a defenceman's leg. Third-line checker Matt D'Agostini got his fifth in the first.

The Blues extended their franchise record to 12 wins overall in a row at home despite going 0 for 6 on the power play. Most of last season, St. Louis had one of the worst home records in the NHL.

"For some reason, it's the home of the Blues at the end of the National Anthem," forward David Backes said. "It's a great way to reward our fans the way we haven't the past couple of years."

Alex Pietrangelo assisted in both goals for the Blues, who have won five in a row overall and have 16 points through the first 10 games, the second-best start in franchise history and only one point behind the 2002-03 season.

The Sharks were shut out for the second straight game, held to a season-low 25 shots, and haven't scored in 144 minutes, 43 seconds. San Jose, which made it to the Western Conference finals last season, has been blanked in its last three games on the road.

In the last five games, the Sharks have been shut out three times and scored five goals twice. The power play, which had led the league at 28.6 per cent, was 0 for 4.

"It's been kind of all or nothing," forward Joe Pavelski said. "We have to figure it out. We're offensively challenged right now."

Antti Niemi, who won all 16 playoff games last spring for the Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks, fell to 1-4. Niemi made 25 saves.

Coach Todd McLellan said players just need to relax.

"We had three breakaways and didn't have any shots on goal," McLellan said. "It's incredible when that happens. We had a couple two-on-ones where we didn't get a shot on goal. We probably haven't had that many free looks at a net in a game all year."

Halak made his sixth straight start and was sharp in net, stopping a handful of short-handed chances. Pavelski shot high off the glass on a breakaway midway through the second and was stopped a break-in later in the period.

Halak, the Blues' big off-season acquisition, built on a sterling October when he was 6-1-1 with a 1.71 goals-against average.

"It's always feels good when you win the game, especially a game like this like we had facing the best team for many years in our building," Halak said. "To beat them, it's a great feeling."

Notes: The Blues are 3 for 27 on the power play the last seven games. ... D'Agostini led the Blues with four shots. Last year he totalled four points in 47 games. ... The Sharks won three of four against St. Louis last season. ... Sharks F Jamal Mayers, who was with the Blues for 10 seasons before being traded in 2008, fought Brad Winchester in the first period.



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