ST. LOUIS (CBS SF) — Alex Pietrangelo had two goals, David Perron also scored with a two-man advantage and Andy McDonald added an assist in his return from a concussion that sidelined him for 51 games, sending the St. Louis Blues to a 3-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.
Jaroslav Halak earned his sixth shutout in just 10 starts, one more than All-Star teammate Brian Elliott has, as the Blues extended a franchise record by earning at least one point in 19 consecutive home games. They’re 16-0-3 at home since a 5-2 loss to Chicago on Dec. 3 and an NHL-best 24-3-4 overall, topping their total of 23 wins last season.
Antti Niemi made 25 saves for the Pacific Division-leading Sharks, who came up empty in the opener of a season-long, nine-game trip. San Jose, which next plays at home Feb. 28 against the Flyers, has lost three of four overall.
The Sharks were 0 for 4 on the power play after going 7 for 14 in the previous four games.
Halak was yanked from his previous start, a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. But he is 13-2-3 in his last 19 starts since Nov. 29 and his 1.66 goals-against average during that time and prior to Sunday was the NHL’s best.
Perron has six goals in the last four games, the last three on the power play, and 10 goals in 30 games overall. He returned in early December from a concussion sustained on a mid-ice hit by the Sharks’ Joe Thornton that knocked him out for more than a year.
The Blues immediately plugged McDonald into the regular rotation plus power-play duty, and he added an element of speed to the lineup. McDonald earned the second assist on Pietrangelo’s goal.
The Blues have four power-play goals in the last two games after entering the weekend in a 2-for-35 slump.
St. Louis is 3-0 against the Sharks this season, outscoring them 7-2 including a 1-0 shutout by Elliott on Dec. 10 in St. Louis. It’s the Sharks’ first three-game losing streak against the Blues since dropping five in a row Jan. 9 to Dec. 18, 2003.
The Sharks were whistled for three penalties in a span of 3 minutes and Pietrangelo capitalized with his ninth goal on a two-man advantage at 15:03 of the first. San Jose was outshot 10-7 in the period, managing just three shots in the last 15 minutes.
Ryan Clowe and Brad Winchester drew tripping and elbowing penalties in the second period, respectively, and it cost the Sharks again. Perron whiffed on a rebound attempt from the side of the net but got a second chance when the puck deflected off Niemmi’s back, and he slipped in a backhander.
Pietrangelo added an empty-net goal with 5.9 seconds to go, shooting from in front of the St. Louis net.
Notes: Pietrangelo scored for the first time in nine games, although he had four assists during that time. … Niemmi has lost four straight to the Blues. … Logan Couture’s career-best, eight-game point streak ended. He totaled five goals and seven assists. … The Blues are 22-1-1 when leading after two periods.
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