Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks
By Mary Walsh
The St. Louis Blues won 2-1 against the San Jose Sharks at the Scottrade Center Friday, tying the Western Conference Final series. Ivan Barbashev and Tyler Bozak scored for St. Louis, while Tomas Hertl got the Sharks’ lone goal. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington made 29 saves for the win, while Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 20 saves in a losing effort.
Asked whether there was an emotional let down after the Game 3 win, and whether that contributed to the slow start, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said:
Not really, it really didn’t cross my mind. There’s a lot of emotion throughout the playoffs. You know, we’re in the Conference Finals, we’ve had overtime wins, we’ve had Game Sevens, we’ve had emotional games for sure. You just lace ’em back up for the next game and you get ready to go and you compete.
After the game, Sharks defenseman Justin Braun said: “Our second and third was really good. The start just wasn’t what we needed and kind of buried us for the night.”
Braun then gave more detail: “We started making plays and battling. I didn’t think we were very clean, we were losing a lot of battles in the first period and then we kind of changed our mindset and started going.”
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer summarized his thoughts on the team’s situation with: “You’re in the Western Conference Final, 2-2, you know, against a really good team. I feel pretty good. We got home ice advantage. Yeah, I mean, you know, I feel good.”
The Blues started the scoring just 35 seconds in. The Blues’ fourth line trapped the Sharks in the defensive zone right off the draw and as Brent Burns tried to clear the puck from behind the net, Alexander Steen came around with a hit. Ivan Barbashev came down the boards and found the puck. He took a shot that went off of Gus Nyquist’s stick and into the net. It was Barbashev’s first of the playoffs.
They added another at 17:43, on the power play. It was the Sharks’ second penalty of the period. The Blues got one shot during their first power play. They had two in the second one. After winning the face-off, the Blues moved the puck around the zone a bit, until Vladimir Tarasenko took a shot from the point. Pat Maroon deflected it and Jones stopped it, but the rebound went right up the slot. Tyler Bozak got credit for the goal, though the puck appeared to go off of Justin Braun’s skate and under Jones. Assists went to Maroon and Tarasenko.
Along with the scoring lead, the Blues led slightly in shots (10-9) while trailing in face-offs (45%) at the end of the first period.
The Sharks had their first power play at 5:41 of the second period, a hooking penalty against Sammy Blais. The Sharks got two shots but no goal. The teams then played four on four after a scrum in the corner at 8:24. Marc-Edouard Vlasic went for slashing Jordan Binnington, and Brayden Schenn went for roughing Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Vlasic’s penalty looked like an attempt to dislodge the puck from under Binnington’s glove, as he poked the end of his stick into the gap at the front of the glove on the ice. Schenn took issue with that, as did the officials.
There was no scoring in the second, but the Sharks mustered a relentless attack in the final minutes of the period, racking up several shots and keeping the Blues trapped in their zone. The Sharks out-shot the Blues 11-8 in the period, but slipped in the face-off circle to 44%. By the end of the second, the Blues had out-hit the Sharks 24-14.
Tomas Hertl and the Sharks’ power play scored at 6:48 of the third period. Brent Burns took a shot from the blue line that trickled under Binnington. Joe Pavelski reached behind the goalie at the same time as Hertl did, and while Hertl was being tackled in the blue paint, the puck went over the line. Assists went to Burns and Erik Karlsson.
The Sharks were back on the power play at 9:52. As the first minute of that wound down, Tyler Bozak chipped the puck past Brent Burns and went for a short-handed attempt. Oskar Sundqvist jumped in to back him up. Bozak got a good shot off, and Sundqvist was there to get a rebound, but Jones did not give him one. The Sharks used their timeout after that. Even so, they did not get any shots during that power play.
At 12:33, the Sharks were called for too many men after the puck was passed to the bench where lines were changing. Joe Thornton swept the puck away before getting off the ice. Evander Kane got away for a short-handed shot, and the Blues had two shots on the power play.
With an offensive zone face-off and 2:02 left, the Sharks pulled Martin Jones for an extra skater. The Blues got a shot at the empty net right away, but missed. The Sharks kept the play in the offensive zone for more than a minute before the Blues found a way to get the puck out. The Sharks outshot the Blues 10-4 in the third, the biggest shot advantage in the game.
Erik Karlsson did not skate in most of the second half of the third period, but stayed on the bench. He was back on the ice for the final two minutes.
Game 5 will be on Sunday at 12 noon PT at the SAP Center in San Jose.