ST. LOUIS - Shrugging off their latest misfortune, the St. Louis Blues beat the NHL-leading San Jose Sharks. One of their many fill-ins played a key role.
Brad Winchester tied it in the second period, and scored the deciding goal on the first shootout chance of his career, helping the Blues knock off the Sharks 3-2 on Saturday night.
"They're a top team in the league, certainly," Winchester said. "We just played hard and played smart. We pressured at the right times and it paid dividends in the end."
Earlier in the day, the Blues announced that left wing Paul Kariya would undergo hip surgery and be sidelined indefinitely. St. Louis also is without Andy McDonald (broken ankle) and defenceman Eric Brewer (back), but coach Andy Murray said his pieced-together roster has not bemoaned the injuries.
"I don't know if Brad Winchester's concerned whether Paul Kariya is in the lineup or not," Murray said. "I don't think it's really been a theme around the room. I haven't heard the guys asking, 'When's Paul coming back?"'
David Perron added his first goal in 19 games for St. Louis, which had lost seven of its previous eight. The Blues ended a seven-game losing streak against the Sharks.
Winchester blistered a wrist shot over Evgeni Nabokov's glove for the deciding goal in the shootout. He was a surprise choice to participate in the shootout, given the nod given his success against San Jose.
"You're always ready," Winchester said. "When he let me know, I was ready to go. I just tried to take it in stride."
San Jose is 27-4-4 and set a franchise record for fastest five goals to start the game in a 5-0 victory over the Canucks on Tuesday, although a 2-2-1 record the last five games reflects that the franchise has cooled off. Coach Todd McClellan was dissatisfied with all aspects of his team's game.
"Way too many passengers. Still celebrating Christmas. Whatever," McClellan said. "We weren't prepared to play and to be quite honest with you, you could almost see it coming."
Jonathan Cheechoo and Mike Grier each had a goal and assist, and Joe Thornton had two assists for the Sharks, who have been put to the test in all three meetings against the lowly Blues with a pair of 5-4 victories earlier in the season. They fell to 3-1 in shootouts.
"We played our game in spurts and it wasn't good enough," Grier said. "They play a simple game and it's never going to be easy when you play a team like that."
Perron also scored in the shootout for St. Louis, while Ryan Clowe scored on a backhander for San Jose. Manny Legace also stopped Danny Boyle and clinched it with a stop on Joe Pavelski.
Nabokov stuffed Keith Tkachuk on a breakaway in the final minute of overtime, apparently believing he was beaten when he glanced behind into the net, and stopped two nice chances by David Backes. Nabokov refused comment after the game.
The Blues announced near the end of the first period that left wing Paul Kariya would undergo surgery on his left hip and would be sidelined indefinitely. Kariya, who has 15 points in 11 games, has already missed 24 games after taking a hit from behind at Anaheim on Nov. 5.
Coming off his 33rd career shutout and with three days' rest, Nabokov gave up a goal on the first shot of the game. Perron broke free after Patrik Berglund checked Douglas Murray off the puck for his third goal of the season at the 57-second mark.
The Blues dominated the first period-and-a-half with a 16-4 advantage in shots, including 10-1 in the second period, before three saves by Nabokov on a power play seemed to awaken the Sharks. Cheechoo scored off Thornton's setup from behind the net at 12:21 of the period, and Grier took advantage of a sloppy rebound and scooped a puck sitting next to Legace into the net a little more than five minutes later to put San Jose ahead.
Winchester, who had two goals in a 5-4 loss at San Jose Dec. 13, tied it at the six-minute mark of the third. The forward, one of many fill-ins on a team ravaged by injuries, converted a backhand feed from Yan Stastny.
Notes: Sharks LW Milan Michalek returned after missing three games with an upper body injury. ... Thornton has a goal and five assists in three games against the Blues. ... Berglund has 13 points in his last 15 games for St. Louis. ... The Blues are 13-2-1 when allowing three or fewer goals. ... Cheechoo scored four goals in his first six games, and his fifth of the year was also his first since Oct. 18. ... Grier had been scoreless in five games since getting his fourth goal on Dec. 13 against the Blues.