SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Erik Karlsson gathered a rebound in the slot and beat Chad Johnson with a slap shot, finally shedding the burden of searching for his first goal with a new team.
The star defenseman sparked a three-goal outburst for San Jose in less than five minutes of the second period, and Aaron Dell earned his fourth career shutout as the Sharks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-0 on Saturday night.
“It’s nice to finally get one in the back of the net,” Karlsson said. “But at the end of the day this is a great win. We played well for 60 minutes. That’s something we haven’t done well over the course of this year so far, so it’s nice to get that.”
Karlsson has taken some time to adjust to his new team after being acquired from Ottawa just before training camp. The two-time Norris Trophy winner came into the game with 11 assists and a minus-9 rating before delivering in a big way against the Blues with a goal and an assist during San Jose’s second-period surge.
Joe Pavelski scored the first of his two goals shortly after Karlsson’s tally, and Evander Kane followed with another as the Sharks struck three times in 4:11 to take control.
Dell did the rest, making 30 saves as the Sharks limited odd-man rushes after giving up nine goals over the past two games.
“That’s what we were striving for,” Pavelski said. “No breakaways. That was nice. I don’t know if they had any 2-on-1s. There were a couple breakdowns here and there, but Deller was great for us. But we got the offense off of being smart. It comes when you do it right, for the most part. Tonight was a good bounce-back game for us.”
Eight days after San Jose lost 4-0 in St. Louis while playing on consecutive nights and for the third time in four days, the Sharks turned the tables on a Blues team facing the same grueling situation.
St. Louis won 4-1 at Vegas on Friday but couldn’t build on that win against the Sharks.
“We just can’t keep coming and saying OK, it’s good one night, it’s not good the next night,” coach Mike Yeo said. “We have to demand it of ourselves that we bring it every night for 60 minutes.”
After a scoreless first period, the game quickly turned in the second. The Sharks began on the power play and generated several good chances without scoring, but drew another penalty to get a second shot with the man advantage.
That power play was mostly sloppy until the end, when Karlsson got a rebound in the high slot and beat Johnson high to the blocker side. Fans gave him a big ovation and Kane raced over to give him a big embrace. Karlsson had a wide smile when he was shown on the video board sitting on the bench shortly after the goal.
“You could just see it in his face that it was weighing on him, there’s no doubt,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “But he’s been playing some real good hockey, and I think he’s been really solid for us lately. For me, the offense is a bonus. We know it’s going to be there and the numbers are going to be there at the end of the year because they have to be based on what he’s doing.”
San Jose didn’t stop there. Pavelski fed Timo Meier on a rush and Johnson made the initial save, but Pavelski won the race to the rebound and tucked it into an open net to make it 2-0.
The Sharks converted on another rush shortly after that with Karlsson setting up Kane in the high slot for a drive that beat Johnson.
Pavelski added another in the third period, giving him six goals in the past four games.
“I think we got away from our game a little bit,” Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly said. “We got a little hesitant and started watching a bit more and obviously they came. . They got confident and came at us hard and we didn’t do enough to counter that.”
NOTES: Logan Couture had three assists. … Blues forwards Alexander Steen and Jaden Schwartz and D Carl Gunnarsson all missed the game with upper-body injuries. … Sharks forward Tomas Hertl missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.
Blues: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.
Sharks: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.