Sharks’ rookie-filled lineup shows inexperience in 5-3 loss to the Blues

For the first time since multiple Sharks players were put on the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol list, San Jose suffered a loss. Having won their previous two games with a rookie-filled, inexperienced lineup, the magic ran out on Thursday night at SAP Center.

After two exciting wins with the rookie-filled lineup, the inexperience caught up with the Sharks against the Blues.

At times during the game, San Jose had trouble keeping the puck in the offensive zone, struggling to sustain pressure. On the other end of the ice, the Sharks’ defenseman were caught bunched up multiple times, chasing the puck, leading to wide-open Blues surrounding the net.

With the inexperience being highlighted in tonight’s loss, the Sharks’ fleet of rookies all showed promise and had a lot of positives to take away from the game too.

The game started out with a flurry of penalties, beginning with Lane Pederson being called for interference, followed by three Blues penalties.

St. Louis’ Pavel Buchnevich was sent to the box for boarding, while Vladimir Tarasenko followed him after being called for unsportsmanlike conduct while arguing the call. With the Sharks on the 4-on-3 power play, a four-minute double minor was called on Ivan Barbashev for high-sticking Logan Couture.

Brent Burns cashed in on the two-man advantage, scoring his first goal of the season. Tomas Hertl slid a pass over to Burns, who launched a one-timer past a screened Joel Hofer.

In his NHL debut in net, Joel Hofer put up a very solid performance with 23 saves. In the first period alone, Hofer turned away 11 San Jose shots while the Sharks were controlling play.

With the Sharks still on the power play after Burns’ goal, Tyler Bozak raced down the ice towards Adin Hill, creating a 2-on-1 break with Brandon Saad to his left. Bozak dished out a pass to Saad, who put it in the back of the net above Hill’s shoulder.

While St. Louis was on a power play late in the first period, Logan Couture scored a short-handed goal of his own, putting the Sharks back in front. Couture stole the puck from Justin Faulk with a beautiful stick-lift before skating down the ice and beating Hofer five-hole.

Starting off the second period, Pavel Buchnevich scored his second goal of the season to tie the game just 4:20 into the middle frame.

San Jose answered back quickly, just 29 seconds after Buchnevich’s goal, when Nick Merkley scored his first goal as a Shark. Merkley, who was parked in front of the net, tipped in a shot from Mario Ferraro to give the Sharks a 3-2 lead.

Less than four minutes after Merkley regained the lead for the Sharks, Brandon Saad tied the game back up. Saad skated in and ripped a shot from the top of the right circle that beat Adin Hill blocker-side.

James Neal, not long after Saad’s goal, gave the Blues the lead. Neal collected a huge rebound given up by Hill and slid it into the back of the net, scoring the eventual game-winning goal.

Adin Hill had an up-and-down night, as he made some great saves, but also would probably like to have a couple of the goals back that got past him.

The Sharks ended the game with a relatively underwhelming third period, only recording six shots on net.

The game ended with Robert Thomas depositing the puck into San Jose’s empty net, securing the win for the Blues.

While the young Sharks lineup wasn’t able to get the win, the experience these young players have been getting the past couple of games will be very valuable in the future. There have been many positives to take away from the Sharks’ fleet of rookies the past couple of games, including tonight.

The Sharks return to the ice on Saturday night at SAP Center, as they close out their five-game homestand against the New Jersey Devils.

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