Oshie KOs Sharks as Blues end road losing streak
One of the Blues’ most experienced scorers made sure they won’t come home without a win on another tough road trip.
St. Louis looked to be in danger of missing too many chances for the second straight night after outshooting San Jose 13-1 in the opening 10 minutes Saturday night. T.J. Oshie solved those problems with a hat trick and two assists to spark a 7-2 rout of the Sharks.
The scoring finally began when Alexander Steen just missed getting a solid shot on Kevin Shattenkirk’s pass straight in front of the goal. Oshie backed up his teammate with a hard shot past goaltender Antti Niemi, whose night would get considerably worse.
Oshie even provided the secondary assist for Steen’s goal to tie the game and overcome a rare goaltending mistake by Brian Elliott late in the first period, but the eventual game-winner will be the one shown on the highlight reels. No assists were needed as Oshie weaved through traffic and fired a perfect shot from the left side over Niemi’s right shoulder for the 100th goal of his illustrious Blues career.
"My line’s been going really good," Oshie told FOX Sports Midwest announcers John Kelly and Darren Pang on the Blues Live postgame show. "Those guys have been working really hard and it’s making the game a lot easier for all three of us, so I happen to be the guy on the end of the scoresheet with three tonight, but those guys are going really hard."
It’s nothing new for St. Louis’ first-round pick in the 2005 draft, who scored his first goal on a late power play on Oct. 22, 2008, vs. Detroit. But this night certainly had some special significance, and not just because a fortunate deflection off a Sharks defenseman in the third period gave Oshie the second hat trick of his career.
An efficient and explosive offensive performance had been sorely lacking for the Blues during a five-game road losing streak, during which they averaged barely more than two goals per game. Two of those were scored in the past two games by Oshie, who doubled his season total since the beginning of this four-game road trip that ends Tuesday at Arizona.
A concussion and slow start appear to be in the rearview mirror for the talented 28-year-old, one of St. Louis’ top energy players when he’s on his game. More production from Oshie going forward could provide a boost in more than just the scoring column as the Blues head toward a seven-game homestand that begins with a rematch against the Sharks on Thursday.
REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD
The STL line shined again as it returned to full strength in the Blues’ highest-scoring game of the season.
The Blues went just 1-5-1 during a tough stretch without forward Jaden Schwartz, who suffered a foot injury in a 5-2 win over Los Angeles on Dec. 16. Multiple players were asked to take his place alongside Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera, but none came close to matching the dynamic 22-year-old.
It took him less than two periods to make his first spectacular play, an almost impossibly perfect no-look pass from behind the net to Shattenkirk for a relatively easy goal. Schwartz would even add one of his own early in the third period when he did just enough to redirect a long shot from Steen under Niemi’s glove.
A relatively quiet night in the statsheet didn’t tell the whole story for Schwartz and his line as they provided constant pressure on the San Jose defense. Few other trios can pass and move as quickly as the three Blues, and it’s no coincidence they’re all among the team’s top five points leaders.
Their possession skills make them a valuable commodity and they’ve combined especially well with Shattenkirk, St. Louis’ best offensive defenseman. Now that Schwartz is back on the ice and looks as if he hasn’t missed a beat, expect the STL line to keep finding the net.