Kevin Labanc scores in OT, Sharks beat Blues 3-2
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The San Jose Sharks were feeling a playoff vibe, and Kevin Labanc fed off it.
Labanc scored at 3:21 of overtime, Timo Meier had two goals and San Jose beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Saturday to take the Western Conference lead.
Labanc scored his 12th goal off assists from Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl.
“You’re fighting for every inch of ice,” Labanc said.
“It was relentless. They had a couple chances, we had a couple chances. It was a really even game, I’d say. It was a lot of fun to play in. We’re going to be expecting the last 13, 14 games to be like this, so we got to be ready. Just start getting ready for that playoff-like hockey.”
Meier extended his goals streak to four games to help San Jose win its fourth straight and move a point ahead of the idle Pacific Division rival Calgary. The Sharks are 13-3-1 in their last 17 games.
“It feels good,” Couture about. “It means that we’ve come a long way. Not too long ago, it was December there, we were going through some tough times as a team and we weren’t anywhere near the top of the conference. It means that we’ve found our game and we’ve played up to our capabilities.”
The 23-year-old Labanc had his eighth career game-winner.
“I thought it was a playoff type game out there. I thought there wasn’t a lot of room,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “I thought both teams defended hard, played hard. There was a real edginess to the game as far as the battles went and things like that. It was a hard-fought game.”
Brayden Schenn and Pat Maroon scored for the Blues. St. Louis lost for the third time in five games after going 13-1-1 in its previous 15.
The Blues tied it at 2 with 2.1 seconds left in the second period on Schenn’s power-play goal.
“It was nice to get one right at the end of the period,” Blues goalie Jake Allen said. “It sort of gives you some momentum going into the third and obviously creates a different mindset in locker room right after the second intermission. We’re not chasing the game anymore, we’re right there and one more goal and we’re up. It was a great goal by (Schenn).”
St. Louis scored midway through the first period on Maroon’s power-play goal.
San Jose took a 2-1 lead on Meier’s 25th and 26th goals in the last four minutes of the first period. Meier tied it with a power play goal at 16:23 of the first period and put the Sharks ahead with 27 seconds left.
The 22-year-old Meier set the single-season goals scored record for a Swiss-born player.
Martin Jones had 17 saves for San Jose.
Blues goalie Jake Allen had 30 saves in a rare second straight start after getting the shutout in a 4-0 win against Los Angeles on Thursday night. Allen has played behind rookie standout Jordan Binnington most of the season.
Allen made several tough saves, including stopping a Marcus Sorensen breakaway late in the game.
“He was excellent,” Blues interim coach Craig Berube said. “We got a little loose there at the end of the third and he stopped a couple of big scoring opportunities to get us a point.”
NOTES: St. Louis F Vladimir Tarasenko was out with an upper body injury. His status is day to day. ... Jaden Schwartz moved up to the first line to take Tarasenko’s spot and Zach Sanford came off the bench to take Schwartz’s spot on the third line.. ... Sharks F Evander Kane (mid-body injury) and All-Star D Erik Karlsson (groin) both missed their fourth straight games. ... Labanc played in his 200th career game. ... Sharks C Joe Thornton moved into a tie with Stan Mikita for 14th on the all-time points list (1,467).
Blues: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.
Sharks: At Minnesota on Monday night.
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