ST. LOUIS – If the St. Louis Blues find their way into the playoffs, goalie Chris Mason says they should be plenty tested.
“We’ve been doing this for two months trying to get back in it. so it has that intensity,” said Mason, who helped the Blues continue their playoff push Thursday by making 24 saves in a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. “It is playoffs for us, otherwise we don’t get in. It’s good preparation for when we do get there.”
The Blues are getting closer, entering the game three points out of a playoff spot. The Blues are 2-0 on their four-game homestand and three games over .500 (31-28-8) for the first time since Oct. 18 when they were 4-1.
“We just got to keep going,” Mason said. “Playing games that mean something every night is just unbelievable.”
Andy McDonald had a goal and an assist, Brad Boyes scored his team-leading 28th goal, and Barret Jackman added an empty-netter for St. Louis.
Patrick Marleau scored his 35th goal for San Jose, which has slipped to second in the Western Conference during a 1-4-1 skid.
“They were pretty hungry out there,” Marleau said of the Blues. “I think they were trying to get their forecheck going early and they were getting the puck in. I thought we did a good job of not letting the pressure get to us, but we made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on them.”
Brian Boucher, playing in place of No. 1 goalie Evgeni Nabokov, made 23 saves for the Sharks. Nabokov missed his fifth straight game due to an undisclosed lower body injury.
With the teams skating four-on-four, Boyes gave the Blues the lead for good. McDonald led a rush into the San Jose zone and fed the puck to Boyes, who snapped a wrist shot from the high slot past Boucher at 13:22 of the second period to make it 2-1.
Boyes admitted that he was not sure whether the puck had gotten by Boucher.
“I didn’t really see,” he said. “I kind of waited and heard the crowd and saw them get up and I knew it went in.”
Jackman sealed St. Louis’ victory when he scored into an empty net on a shot from his end with 25.1 seconds left.
“It was a good game and a tight game,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “Unfortunately, we came out on the short end.”
San Jose, which came into the game ranked second in the NHL on the power play (24.4 per cent), took a 1-0 lead 11:30 in with the man advantage. Christian Erhoff got the puck in the left circle off a faceoff and centred to Marleau in the slot. Marleau then beat Mason with a wrist shot.
The Blues tied it at 16:48 when David Perron and McDonald executed a perfect two-on-one break. Perron brought the puck in on right wing and passed cross-ice to McDonald, who deked Boucher and slid the puck under him.
Notes: Patrik Berglund (upper body) and Alex Steen (lower body) were late scratches for St. Louis. … Marleau’s goal was San Jose’s league-leading, 72nd in the first period. … Boyes extended his point streak to four games (three goals, three assists).