Blues thump Sharks again

ST. LOUIS — Jaden Schwartz could tell that it was only a matter of time that the Blues would shake their recent struggles.

The Blues have done just that since Schwartz returned from his foot injury, beating the visiting San Jose Sharks 7-2 on Thursday night at Scottrade Center for their third straight victory.

“We’re really playing our game right now,” said Schwartz, who had three assists. “We're sticking to our systems and everyone is just doing their job. It's nice to see that we're getting rewarded. It’s just a big team effort again.”

The Blues (25-13-3, 53 points) got goals from Alexander Steen, Jay Bouwmeester, Paul Stastny, Jori Lehtera, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and David Backes. Steen, Stastny, Backes, Oshie, Lehtera also had assists for two-point nights. Vladimir Tarasenko had two assists.

St. Louis has now scored 20 goals during a three-game win streak, which coincides with Schwartz’s return from a foot injury. The Blues went 1-5-1 in seven games without Schwartz.

“We're all playing good hockey, from the goalie to the defense to the forwards,” Schwartz said. “Everybody's doing their job. Tonight you saw they were pretty tired on the back end by the end of the game and that's what we wanted to do from the start.”

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he’s seeing really unselfish hockey from his team right now.

“When you are unselfish you come off the ice at the right time, you change at the right time, you leave your teammate in a good spot, you’re going to have success,” Hitchcock said. “To me the goals are a result of the way we’re playing. We’re playing the right way and it’s having a big impact on keeping the group together.”

The Blues had played 16 of their previous 23 games on the road before Thursday’s game, which was the first of seven straight at Scottrade Center. The Blues improved to 14-4-1 at home.

The Sharks (22-15-5), who got goals from Logan Couture and Melker Karlsson, won two of their three road games after losing to the Blues on Saturday at home in San Jose.

“That’s as good as I've seen a team play two games against us,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “They had the puck the whole night, they protected it, they roamed around and if you just looked at the shot totals you would say San Jose was in the game. We weren’t. … Right now I don't know what else is going on around the league but it would be hard to find a team better than that.”

St. Louis struck first with a power-play goal from Alexander Steen at the 10:38 mark of the first period.

The Sharks had a two-on-one breakaway on the other end but Couture missing the shot, which led to an odd-man rush on the other end. Schwartz hit Tarasenko on a cross-ice pass and then Tarasenko fed it back to Steen for a wrister.

Steen’s 11th goal of the season was his third in four games and gave him 10 points in his last five games.

Bouwmeester’s second goal of the season, assisted by Tarasenko and Lehtera, put St. Louis up 2-0 with 4:54 left in the first period.

San Jose answered with a short-handed goal by Couture, his 15th, with 1:33 remaining in the first period after Joe Pavelski took a double-minor for high-sticking.

But Stastny helped the Blues capitalize on the Pavelski penalty with a power-play goal, his ninth of the season, assisted by Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk with 54 seconds left in the period.

Stastny’s power-play goal was the Blues’ seventh on the advantage during their three-game win streak and their eighth in four games.

The Sharks scored just 29 seconds into the second period with a wrister from Karlsson, assisted by Couture and Brent Burns, to cut the deficit to 3-2.

Lehtera’s ninth of the season, assisted by Schwartz, gave the Blues a 4-2 lead at the 8:52 mark of the second period. Oshie scored a few minutes later on a rebound of a Steen shot to make it 5-2 and chase Sharks goalie Antti Niemi from the game.

Berglund made it 6-2 with a wraparound goal with 10:55 left in the third period. Then Backes scored, his fifth in two games and 14th of the season, with 8:01 left.

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com


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