“It was almost too easy,” Wilson said after the Sharks held of for a 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night. “I kept saying to the team, ‘You got to put these guys away. They won’t go away.’ All the games I’ve watched on TV where they’ve managed to fall behind by two or three, they’ve managed to come back and I thought they’d do the same.”
They did, scoring twice in the third period to cut the Sharks’ lead to one. But the Sharks, powered by a goal and three assists from both Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo, held on.
That was a little too close for Cheechoo, particularly after the way the game began.
“It was nice to get off to a start like that, but we sat back too much,” he said. “The defence wasn’t following the play and we started turning pucks over, too. We kind of let our guard down and they took advantage.”
Mike Grier and Patrick Marleau also had a goal and an assist each for San Jose, which has won the first two games of its season-high, eight-game road trip. Ryane Clowe and Matt Carle also scored for the Sharks.
Bill Guerin had a hat trick for St. Louis, giving him 25 goals for the season. It was Guerin’s seventh NHL hat trick and first since March 3, 2004, when he was with Dallas.
“Scoring goals is nice, but they’re a lot nicer in a winning effort, ” Guerin said. “We just got behind the 8-ball a little too early.”
Guerin, who also had an assist, is the first Blues player to record a hat trick at home since Scott Mellanby scored four times against Phoenix on March 6, 2003. Keith Tkachuk and Christian Backman also scored for the Blues, who have dropped six of eight.
San Jose led 5-1, and then carried a 6-3 advantage into the third period.
Backman cut the deficit to 6-5 when he scored off the rebound of Guerin’s shot at 14:03 of the third.
“They just kept pressing us and we opened up our defence,” Clowe said. “We just have to tighten up, and I’m sure we’ll go over some things to make sure we do.”
San Jose did most of its damage against starting goalie Manny Legace.
Clowe beat him with a wrist shot from the left circle 39 seconds into the game on San Jose’s first shot, The Sharks scored on three of their next 12 shots, and Legace was pulled for Curtis Sanford after allowing Thornton’s power-play goal at 4:40 of the second period that made it 4-1. Legace went back in at the start of the third and stopped all five shots he faced.
“I was awful,” Legace said. “That’s what happens when you bring your ‘Z’ game against one of the top teams in the league.”
With the Sharks leading 2-0, Guerin scored his first goal when Backman slid the puck to him in the left circle as Backman skated down the middle. Guerin’s one-timer beat goalie Vesa Toskala at 13:15 of the first period to cut it to 2-1.
But just 33 seconds later, the Sharks had their two-goal lead back when Marleau broke in on left wing and slid a cross ice pass to a wide-open Grier coming down the right wing for a tap-in.
After Thornton’s goal, Marleau took advantage of a Blues turnover to make it 5-1 at 6:13 of the second.
Guerin netted his second of the night at 8:53 of the middle period when he came in on right wing and scored off a wrist shot from the right circle.
After Cheechoo scored at 11:30, Guerin completed the hat trick 35 seconds later when Matt Walker hit him with a pass in the left circle, and he put a wrist shot past Toskala.
Notes: Toskala has won his last six games against the Blues, and the Sharks have won five straight in St. Louis. The Blues have not beaten San Jose at home since Dec. 18, 2003. … Legace was 13-4-2 in his previous 19 games, stopping 477 of 513 shots with a 2.01 goals-against average. … Thornton has 59 assists, second to Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, who has 62.