SAN JOSE (AP) — On a night the St. Louis Blues didn’t bring their best game, the defending Stanley Cup champions found a way to grind out a win.
Alex Pietrangelo scored twice in the third period, Jake Allen had 34 saves and the Blues beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2 Saturday night in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference finals.
“This group, we just find a way to win,” Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy coming over to the West Coast the day before and sometimes you don’t have your legs and I didn’t think we did today, but we just found a way.”
Pietrangelo finished a 2-on-1 with a shot past Martin Jones for a 3-2 lead with 8:53 left. Pietrangelo and Ryan O’Reilly each added empty-net goals.
Jaden Schwartz scored and had two assists and Jordan Kyrou also scored for the Blues, who won their fifth straight and improved to 16-2-3 against Western Conference opponents and 11-4-3 on the road.
“It’s character and leadership, that’s a big part of it for sure,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “They know how to hang in there and then when the time comes they push and they win games. We’re not always going to have our best stuff, so it’s important that you find ways to win those games.”
Brent Burns and newly acquired Stefan Noesen each scored for San Jose, which has lost eight of nine and three of four since Bob Boughner took over as interim coach after the Sharks fired Peter DeBoer.
“Until the third it felt good,” Sharks captain Logan Couture said.
“Then the one in the third it didn’t feel good. We couldn’t answer, couldn’t get control of the puck. … We’ve got to find a way to come up with pucks in their zone, we’ve got an extra man so we’ve got to do a better job.”
The Sharks trailed 2-1 late in the second when Noesen scored in his San Jose debut. Noesen, who the Sharks claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, took a shot after a long pass from Brendan Dillon.
St. Louis went up 2-1 at 5:30 of the second period on Schwartz’s power-play goal. The Blues had a 2-on-1 just outside the crease when Brayden Schenn dished the puck to Schwartz, who tapped it past Jones for his 10th goal.
Jones stopped 23 shots.
The Sharks broke a scoreless tied less than a minute into the second period when Burns scored a power-play goal on a one-timer off a pass from Erik Karlsson.
Kyrou scored an unassisted goal for St. Louis 22 seconds later.
“That composure you need for 60 minutes to beat a special team like the St. Louis Blues, I thought we lacked a little of that in the third period, and that one big breakdown,” Boughner said.
“We didn’t give them much, then we gave them one big chance, a breakdown. Those are the things you’ve got to eliminate from your game. We had our chances and we didn’t find a way to bury ours.”
NOTES: Blues C Ivan Barbashev played after missing two games with an upper body injury. … C Tyler Bozak was back in the lineup after missing one game due to illness. … O’Reilly’s seventh goal extended his point streak to five games. He has five assists and one goal over that stretch. … Sharks C Logan Couture played in his 700th career game. … D Radim Simek (knee) skated Saturday but is expected to be held out until after the Christmas break, Boughner said. … F Joel Kellman made his NHL debut for San Jose.
Sharks: Host Vegas on Sunday.
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