ST. LOUIS -- When two of the NHL's three remaining undefeated teams came to a collision on Tuesday night at Scottrade Center, something had to give. But no one might have anticipated such a generous compromise.
The visiting Sharks didn't just smudge the Blues' spotless record, they soiled it with a commanding 6-2 victory.
San Jose led 5-0 before goals by Vladimir Tarasenko and Roman Polak provided respite for a crowd of 14,503.
"A lot of times we say the score doesn't really indicate how the game was played," Blues captain David Backes said. "That score was right on."
On an unusually provocative hockey night in mid-October, the only thing not so giving at Scottrade was the boards. With both teams harboring Stanley Cup aspirations, both off to perfect starts, the game promised some high-octane excitement. But it delivered something far more sobering less than six minutes in.
Speeding Blues forward Maxim Lapierre caught Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle leaning down over the puck in San Jose's corner. Lapierre's shoulder hit sent Boyle's head pancaked against the top of the boards. The veteran Boyle crumpled to the ice and laid motionless.
San Jose forward Matt Pelech immediately dropped his utensils to chase down Lapierre, inciting a full-out scrum. All the players on the ice converged to exchange pleasantries. When the commotion was over, Boyle still was horizontal and had to be carried from the surface on a stretcher.
Thankfully, Boyle was alert and moving his extremities in the dressing room afterward. He was taken to a hospital and kept overnight for further evaluation. Initially, the scene was disturbing.
"He wasn't (saying anything) and that's what was so scary," San Jose forward Joe Thornton said. "I've never seen a guy be like that before. It just takes your breath away. He wasn't responding or anything. It was very, very scary."
To put the thing mildly, the Sharks were not pleased with Lapierre.
"It's just disgusting to see that type of play in hockey," said Logan Couture, "when a player that probably shouldn't even be in this league is taking out one of the best players in the world. (Lapierre) has got a history."
And furthermore: "Idiots are idiots out there," added Joe Pavelski. "Dan is a world-class defenseman ... (Lapierre saw) straight numbers (in front of him). There's guys in the league will target that ... it doesn't matter, they'll just go. It (stinks). Guys responded appropriately."
Lapierre received a number of penalties, including a game misconduct. He could face further discipline from the league office. Blues forward Ryan Reaves and Pelech also got early dismissals, while Sharks forward Andrew Desjardins received a 10-minute misconduct.
Blues forward Alexander Steen called reason. "The whole situation's tough to watch, everybody felt badly," Steen said. "(Lapierre) didn't do anything on purpose. Nobody wants to see stuff like that. He's obviously going to feel bad, but it's something that happens, an accident."
The disturbance proved inspiring for the visitors, unsettling for the home squad.
"They did a good job of not saying, 'Let's get out there and even the score,'" Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "And after that we played on our heels a bit. We were worried about what's going to happen to us after that, whether they were going to retaliate.
"Too many penalties. They have too many good guys on their power play. They're going to expose us."
The Blues had not trailed in their building since the third period of a game with Vancouver on April 16 last season. But the Sharks showed them the rear-view mirror with 10:23 still to play in the period as Couture scored on a power play.
Couture was left alone to power in his third goal past netminder Jaroslav Halak, who had little chance. Less than a minute later, with defenseman Jay Bouwmeester off for high-sticking, San Jose made it 2-0 on Joe Pavelski's power-play goal.
The Blues haven't been killing penalties recently, penalties have been killing them. The team began the season with a successful stint of 11 consecutive penalty kills. Pavelski's goal gave the opposition six conversions in the last 10 power plays chances.
At the same time, the Blues went without a special teams goal for the first time this season.
"Tonight's an example of when you don't hold your discipline and your competitive composure, how things can unravel," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "To me, they played the right way, they came in and played the right way and we didn't and we paid for it."
The injurious aspect of the first period surfaced again with 3:53 remaining. San Jose forward Brent Burns gave Blues forward Brenden Morrow a shove from behind and Morrow crashed into the wall in the Blues' end.
In pain, Morrow didn't get up and another post-hit scrum occurred. Morrow had to be helped to the dressing room, but the veteran forward returned for the second period. Lapierre's severe sentencing notwithstanding, Burns received a modest two minutes for boarding, a development greeted with resounding boos by Blues faithful.
The emotionally charged period ended with the Blues being out-shot 14-6 and out-scored 2-0.
?San Jose's Tommy Wingels stuffed a wrap-around past the embattled Halak with 11:26 to play in the second period and the Sharks led 3-0.
If the Blues' undefeated record was on life support at that point, it went flat line when San Jose's Scott Hannan took a pass from Thornton and beat Halak with a slap. The 34-year-old Hannan's first goal in 59 games and fourth goal in four seasons made it 4-0 with less than three minutes left in the period.
The Blues switched goaltenders to start the third, removing Halak and giving Brian Elliott his first action of the season. Elliott was greeted rudely when Thornton whipped a wrist shot by just over five minutes in for his first goal, adding to a four-point evening. The Sharks led 5-0.
The remaining patrons got something to cheer when Tarasenko scored his fourth goal, converting a Jaden Schwartz pass. The Blues then got to within three, 5-2, when Polak knocked in a rebound with 7:32 to play. It was the 10th goal of Polak's 357-game career and first by a Blues defenseman this season.
But the 6-0 Sharks have been winning by an average margin of more than three goals, and Patrick Marleau made things right with his fifth goal with less than three minutes to play.
No one in the Blues' camp expected to finish the season undefeated. After the game, the concern was more about response than result.
"They were on the right side of the puck all night and they did it with tenacity and we weren't ready for it," Hitchcock said. "So no matter how much you talk about it, we had to experience it. And now how do we go from here and move forward? That's the thing."
(c)2013 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services