The San Jose Sharks may have suffered a 4-2 loss at the hands of the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night, but there was at least one positive to take away from the game. Defenseman Brent Burns scored his first goal of the season in his first game back from a leg injury, the 67th tally of his career. Burns got his goal while playing right wing, part of an experiment of sorts to try and jump start a Sharks offense that has struggled to score goals lately.
Burns played on the third line with Scott Gomez and James Sheppard to start the game, but eventually got a chance on the top line with Joe Thornton and Logan Couture. Coach Todd McLellan must have been happy with the switch-up, and even gave Burns some time at forward on the power play. If he was hoping to shake up the Sharks’ offense, then mission accomplished. Burns brought speed and a great shot to the forward position and should at a minimum let the top-line players know their jobs might not be safe much longer if the continue to struggle. Dan Boyle had the other Sharks goal, a power play tally with assists from Patrick Marleau and Thornton.
Tuesday marked just the third time in eight starts that Antti Niemi allowed three goals. The Sharks’ penalty kill got back on track and was a perfect 3-for-3 after giving up a power play goal in each of their previous games. It should have been a night of positives for the Sharks, but Niemi was outplayed by Blues rookie Jake Allen, who made 39 saves.
It’s great news for the Sharks that Burns is back, and even better news that he is showcasing an ability to play at either end of the ice effectively. This team needs to start scoring more goals, and if moving a defenseman up front is what it takes, then kudos to McLellan for having that vision.