© Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA)
ST. LOUIS - Tyson Nash scored his first goal of the playoffs during the St. Louis Blues' second-period onslaught against the Sharks on Sunday. But he'd accomplished his mission in Game 6 long before that.
Just ask Sharks defenseman Jeff Norton.
"If he's gonna play that way, he better be ready to stand up," Norton said. "He stirs things up, but he turtles up quick. I haven't seen anybody ever turtle up as quick. He's gonna get his, one of these days. He's gonna get it."
Nash spent the afternoon annoying the Sharks like a swarm of gnats. He shoved. He elbowed. He flopped. Simply, he got under the Sharks' skin. Nash helped draw three penalties during the Blues' 6-2 victory.
"They were taking a few liberties and trying to make guys sore for Game 7," Nash said of the Sharks. "Coach (Joel Quenneville) was not gonna throw out (Blues center Pierre) Turgeon and all those other top stars."
So it was left to Nash to help dish out punishment. But when it came time to absorb it, Norton said, Nash was too quick to turn tail.
"That's B.S.," Norton said of Nash's tactics. "If he wants to do that, then stand up and be a man. Hockey's a man's game, so be a man."
Nash earned 12 penalty minutes, all in the third period. He was called for slashing Ron Stern at 2:44, then earned a five-minute major for fighting Norton at 10:47. At 17:21, he received another five-minute major for fighting Stern. After the second fight, Stern placed his hands over his face in a mock gesture at Nash.
"We weathered the storm," Nash said. "And we're feeling pretty good about ourselves."
Sharks coach Darryl Sutter inserted Stern into the lineup for the first time during the series, placing him on the fourth line and scratching Alex Korolyuk. Stern hadn't played since an April 1 game at Calgary. He missed the last four games of the regular season.
Sutter said he made the decision because he wanted to match the Blues' physical fourth line, which includes Nash and wing Jamal Mayers.
"The first two shifts, I had some tight breathing," he said. "I did as much as I could to stay as in as good a shape as I could. I just tried to contribute and do what I know I can do."
Stern played 13 shifts and received 8:06 of ice time. He recorded five hits and earned nine penalty minutes.
Close, no cigar
Center Vincent Damphousse nearly got the Sharks on the board a minute into the second period, when his shot from the right of the crease hit off St. Louis goalie Roman Turek's foot and trickled across the crease, inches in front of the goal line. Damphousse raced to the other side to try to stuff in a rebound, but Turek made a stick save before covering up the puck.
"It maybe would've been a change in the game," Damphousse said of the near-miss, which would've cut St. Louis' lead to 2-1. "It could've made a difference."
Owen Nolan and Bryan Marchment scored for the Sharks. Nolan has five goals in the playoffs. Marchment, who had one career playoff goal entering the series, has two. ... St. Louis' five second-period goals were the most ever allowed by the Sharks in a period during a home game in the playoffs. The six goals allowed were three fewer than the club mark, set in a 9-2 home loss to Calgary in Game 3 of that first-round series in 1995. ... The Sharks are 1-5 lifetime in Game 6 and have been outscored 26-14. ... The Sharks will show Game 7 on the video board at San Jose Arena. Gates open at 5 p.m. and the game starts at 6 p.m. Parking and admission are free.