Photo credit: @PR_NHL
By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE — The St. Louis Blues took a 3-2 lead in the NHL Western Conference Final, by defeating the San Jose Sharks 5-0 at SAP Center Sunday.
St. Louis got goals from Oskar Sundqvist, Vladimir Tarasenko and a hat trick from Jaden Schwartz. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington made 21 saves in the shutout win.
Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 35 saves in a losing effort. Through the game, San Jose was penalized eight times and lost four players to injury for several minutes or more. Only one of those returned to play in the third period.
After the game, Sharks forward Logan Couture commented on what he saw of the hits that sent Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl out of the game: “I saw the Hertl hit, I just saw the replay. Yeah, that’s a tough one. But, I mean they had one earlier, in Game 3, I believe on Braun. I think it was Game 3. And nothing happened, so they can do it again, right?”
Evander Kane hit a post in the first moments of Sunday’s game. Asked whether a goal there would have changed the momentum significantly, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:
I think a few things could have changed the game. I thought we played well enough to come out of that first maybe up. I thought, arguably, a five-minute major on Tommy Hertl, that if it’s called, you know, that’s a momentum changing play right there. But we come out of the first down one-nothing and then Hertl can’t go, and you know, Karlsson can’t go and so we started taking on some water. I thought they took over in the second period. And then when Pav got hit high we lost our composure there in the third. And, not our finest moment but I understand where that emotion’s coming from with what he’s been through. We’ve just got to regroup, got to go in and win a game.
The Sharks had some excellent chances off the hop, including that Kane shot off the post. Then, at 5:50, the Blues got on the board. Erik Karlsson went down behind his own net to move the puck out, and sent it up the boards for Brenden Dillon. It went between Dillon’s skates and off the boards back into open ice. While the Sharks kept an eye on Alexander Steen and Pat Maroon in their zone, Oskar Sundqvist sped out of the neutral zone and shot the puck. Erik Karlsson had moved into the lane and Sundqvist used him as a screen, so the puck went right by Jones. That was the first of three unassisted goals in a row.
The Sharks out-shot the Blues 11-4 in the first, but the Blues won 56% of the faceoffs. Logan Couture had a notable drop off in face-off performance, against a number of Blues players after five minutes. The Sharks had two shots on their first period power play.
The start of the second was less good for the Sharks. After five minutes, the Blues had another goal and a 10-1 shot lead. The goal came off an ill-conceived attempt to move the puck across the slot by Jones. He was trying to clear the puck away after Brenden Dillon blocked the shot on its way in, but Jaden Schwartz skated to the net and put the puck around Jones without anyone getting in his way.
Moments later, the Blues were awarded a penalty shot after Brent Burns tripped Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko put a shot over Jones’ glove into the top corner to make it 3-0. That was at 6:53. At 10:43, the Blues were on a four-minute power play after Donskoi caught Steen in the mouth with his stick. That did not last long as Tyler Bozak got called for holding Evander Kane. The two minute four-on-four generated little for either team, and the Sharks killed off the rest of the Blues power play.
With five left in the period, the shots were 18-4 Blues. By the end of the period, the Blues outshot the Sharks 20-6. the Blues also improved their faceoff advantage to 57%. Tomas Hertl was the only Shark to take more than five faceoffs and win more than 50% of them. He won 70%. On the Blues’ side, Tyler Bozak and Brayden Schenn won just over 70% of their face-offs.
Erik Karlsson did not skate during the last seven or so minutes of the period.
The Sharks started the second period with a pair of penalties, putting the Blues on a two minute five-on-three power play at 1:55. With Micheal Haley and Barclay Goodrow both in the box, Jaden Schwartz scored with a pin-balling shot that put the Blues up 4-0 at 2:19. Assists went to David Perron and Tarasenko.
The Sharks managed to kill off the remainder of the second penalty.
Before the middle of the third period, Tomas Hertl, Joe Pavelski, Erik Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi were all in the dressing room for repairs or worse. Donskoi skated two shifts at the start of the period before leaving with a bleeding face. Pavelski skated one shift. Hertl and Karlsson did not skate in the third.
Micheal Haley joined them for unsportsmanlike conduct and an additional misconduct. A tripping penalty to Timo Meier put the Sharks on another five-on-three penalty kill.
Donskoi returned to the game after the ten minute mark, with just under eight minutes remaining.
The Sharks got their second power play of the game at 13:12. They did not score. The Blues did, at 16:02. Another defensive collapse from the remaining Sharks allowed Schwartz to get open on that same side again. Another assist went to Tarasenko.
With a little more than two minutes remaining, Evander Kane took some penalty time: two for goaltender interference, two for slashing Edmundson, and a little more for misconduct.
Game 6 will be on Tuesday at the Enterprise Center at 5:00 PM PT.