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Sharks defeat Blues, sweep season series
St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Irwin and Marty Havlat each recorded a goal and an assist to help the San Jose Sharks continue their mastery of the St. Louis Blues this season with a 4-2 win at Scot trade Center.
Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns also scored to support a 20-save effort from Antti Niemi as San Jose posted its third victory in as many meetings with the Blues in 2013-14. The Sharks have outscored St. Louis by a 16-7 margin in those matchups.
"It's really good to get the three wins," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "They're a team that had our number. Tonight, I don't think it was indicative of what can happen down the road if we meet in the playoffs."
Patrick Marleau and Justin Braun contributed two assists apiece to the triumph, just the Sharks' second in their last seven overall.
Kevin Shattenkirk and Jay Bouwmeester had the goals for St. Louis, with Jaroslav Halak stopping 23 shots in the loss.
The Sharks dominated play throughout the opening period and took a 2-0 advantage into the first intermission behind goals by Pavelski and Irwin less than three minutes apart.
Pavelski was in perfect position to send San Jose ahead near the midway mark of the frame. While camped out on the doorstep of the St. Louis goal, the heady center knocked in a shot from Havlat that was deflected over the net.
Irwin also benefited from a favorable bounce to extend the lead with 7:26 left in the frame, with the defenseman corralling Braun's shot that went wide of the net and depositing the rebound into an open left side.
"We've got to get better on our starts," said Shattenkirk."We did initially early for a couple minutes and then got away from it. They get a fortunate bounce on the first goal, but from there, we've just got to kind of pick our heads up and know that what we were doing at the time was getting the job done."
Burns made it a 3-0 game just two minutes into the second period with a close- range blast after taking in a feed from Joe Thornton behind the net, but the Blues put up a pair of goals before the session concluded to narrow the gap.
Shattenkirk's drive from the left point deflected off a body in front and found its way past Niemi with 4:29 to go in the stanza, and Bouwmeester's screamer from long range pulled the Blues within 3-2 with only 25 seconds on the second-period clock.
The Sharks were able to kill the momentum with a strong third period, though. Niemi turned aside all eight chances he faced and Havlat provided an insurance tally with 11:41 remaining, skating in to convert the rebound of an attempt by Braun that had struck the left post.
"He's getting better every game," McLellan said of Havlat. "He's accepting more and more of the responsibility that he has to for his play and for the team's success. He's been a big part of it."
St. Louis was dealt only its third regulation loss at home this season. Two have come at the hands of the Sharks, who posted a 6-2 decision at Scot trade Center on Oct. 15 ... Burns had a hat trick in the teams' most recent clash, a 6-3 Sharks' win in San Jose on Nov. 29 ... Forwards David Backes (upper body), Jaden Schwartz (undisclosed) and Vladimir Sobotka (upper body) all sat out for the Blues ... The Sharks improved to 15-2-5 when scoring the game's first goal this season ... San Jose went 0-for-3 on the power play and has failed to convert 14 opportunities with the man advantage over its last six road tests.
12/18 00:00:24 ET