By: Colby Kephart
The San Jose Sharks beat the St. Louis Blues by a score of 3-0 in Game 3 of the 2016 Western Conference Final. The Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl line was responsible for 2 goals on Thursday night, with Hertl responsible for both of them.
Martin Jones also had a great night stopping 22 shots out of the 22 shots he faced for his second straight shutout. Brain Elliot stopped 11 out of 14 before being pulled in the 3rd period.
Before I get into telling you about the action let me just start by saying St. Louis scratching Steve Ott was a huge mistake. Ott gets into the heads of the other team and makes every game he’s a part of more entertaining. St Louis jumped out from the gates looking to rebound after Game 2. They had the first three shots of the game and managed to keep the Sharks from getting a shot on goal through the first few minutes. The Sharks started to get their feet going, but sent their shots high and wide.
With 4:07 remaining in the period, a turnover forced by Joe Thornton found Joe Pavelski as he was racing into the offensive zone. Pavelski made a great pass to find Tomas Hertl alone on the other side of the ice who hammered the one-timer past Brian Elliott. It was Hertl’s 4th goal of the playoffs and gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead. For most of the first period there was a lot of neutral zone play and were many battles along the boards. With less than a minute left in the period, Alex Pietrangelo took a charging penalty on the goal scorer Hertl.
The second period started with 1:53 left on the Sharks power play as they were looking to add to their lead. The Blues were able to kill off the penalty, having only allowed a single shot on goal. The Sharks had a great chance to add to their lead as Chris Tierney danced by the Blues defenseman but was denied by Elliott.
The Sharks forced turnovers all over the ice, but they couldn’t capitalize on them until 11:44 of the second period. Joonas Donskoi got his stick in the right spot to break up a Blues pass and started a fast break with Logan Couture leading the rush. Couture held the puck up and made a great pass back to Donskoi who made no mistake from the slot to beat Elliott with a wrist shot. It was Donskoi’s 4th goal of the playoffs and Couture’s 20th point this postseason.
Couture took a penalty with 4:59 remaining in the period for catching Patrik Berglund with a high stick. San Jose was up to the task on the penalty kill, however, as they killed it off without any issue. The horn brought the end of a defense-heavy period as both teams combined for only 11 shots on goal. San Jose was also out hitting St Louis 32-16 after forty minutes of play.
The 3rd period started with St. Louis jumping out again with pressure, getting the first 3 shots of the period and holding San Jose shot less. Shot less, that is, until Tomas Hertl received a pass from Thornton and took it to the front of the net and trickled the puck through Elliott’s pads 5:29 into the third.
Blues head coach, Ken Hitchcock, made a goalie change, swapping Elliott with Jake Allen after San Jose’s third unanswered goal of the night (and seventh consecutive goal of the series). The goal was Hertl’s 5th of the playoffs and Thornton’s 10th assist of the playoffs.
St Louis was trying not get shut out again and Troy Brouwer thought he had one when they forced a turnover. His wrist shot from the point beat Martin Jones but rang off the post and kept Jones shutout streak alive. With just over 5 minutes left in the game, St Louis pulled Allen for an extra attacker. The Sharks were able to keep everything out wide, without surrendering many chances to the Blues. The Blues had a few chances but Jones was up to it securing his shutout.
Game 4 will be in San Jose on Saturday at 7:15 PM ET on NBC in the United States and on CBC and TVA Sports in Canada. We can only hope Steve Ott plays in that game.