The St. Louis Blues easily defeated the San Jose Sharks by the score of 6-3 on Saturday night at “The Shark Tank”. The Blues were led by the surprising play of underdogs Troy Brouwer and Kyle Brodziak who scored two goals apiece. This game was the Blues 100th game of the 2015-2016 season which is now a new franchise record.
The St. Louis Blues looked to get back on track in the series after falling behind 2 games to 1. They were blown out by the combined score of 7-0 in Games 2 and 3, the Blues made a major change in net. Blues skipper Ken Hitchcock decided to bench Brian Elliot because of his very poor performances in Games 2 and 3 and go down a different path. He turned to surprising tendy Jake Allen, for his first start since April 3rd, to try and grab a crucial road win and even up the series. Allen’s only playoff action of this year’s playoffs were two relief efforts when the Blues pulled Brian Elliot. He’s only seen a total of nine shots in two games. Allen has appeared in a total of nine games, going 2-4 with a .910 SV% and 1.90 GAA in the playoffs.
St. Louis will look to try and get a puck past Sharks star goalie Martin Jones. The Blues have not scored a single goal in seven and a half periods going back to their last goal in Game 1 totaling to a whopping 147:43 in time. St. Louis has a total of two goals in three games this series.
The game started surprisingly slow which is uncommon for both teams. We got the games first penalty exactly five minutes into the game when Sharks star Brent Burns tripped Blues winger Jaden Schwartz. This sent St. Louis to their dreadful power play that is 1/9 on the man advantage in the series. It did not take long for the Blues to convert for the games first goal. St. Louis center Paul Stastny grabbed the puck above the hash marks on the right side. Stastny didn’t hold on to it long and dished the puck down to winger Robby Fabbri who was parked below the goal line. Fabbri immediately one touched the puck up to winger Troy Brouwer who instantly ripped a one-timer past goalie Martin Jones. St. Louis scored 1:14 into the manpower advantage and took the 1-0 lead thanks to Brouwer’s 6th goal of the playoffs. This goal ended Martin Jones stunning shutout streak at 156:59.
St. Louis would double their lead just 4:14 later. St. Louis would go on the forecheck and force a turnover from the Sharks D in their own zone. The Blues would jump right on the loose puck and come in on a rush. Blues center Jori Lehtera, in the slot, would sauce a pass over to winger Robby Fabbri who had all net to shoot at as Martin Jones was way out of position. Just as Fabbri released his wrister Sharks goaltender Martin Jones pushed from left to right and absolutely ROBBED Fabbri with the paddle of his goalie stick. Fabbri looked up to the rafters in disbelief that he didn’t score, but he wasn’t sad for long. Jones’ rebound sat right in the goalie crease and Sharks D-man Brent Burns hastily kicked the puck out of the crease. Unfortunately, Burns kicked the puck right to Blues center Jori Lehtera who, made no mistake and, potted the puck into the gaping net. Lehtera’s 3rd goal of the playoffs increased the Blues lead to 2-0.
Just 17 seconds later Blues center Paul Stastny got a two-minute interference call on San Jose captain Joe Pavelski. This sent the Sharks to their first power play of the game while they are 2/10 in the series. St. Louis came to play early and weren’t having any nonsense and killed the penalty off without conceding a single shot.
Then with 24 seconds left in the opening frame, the Blues would go back onto the power play. Sharks defender Marc-Edouard Vlasic got the call for slashing St. Louis winger Vladimir Tarasenko. The first period would end with the game being all St. Louis. St. Louis will start the second period with 1:36 of power play time.
Things would not get any better for San Jose as just 48 seconds into the second period Sharks center Logan Couture would get called for a delay of game penalty. St. Louis would get a great chance to score again as they played 48 seconds of 5 on 3 hockey. The Sharks clamped down defensively, only giving up two shots, and killed the long penalty off.
We would get another penalty with 5:10 gone in period two. Blues D-man Kevin Shattenkirk would get a two-minute trip to the sin bin for interfering with Sharks Melker Karlsson. San Jose looked to cut into the Blues two-goal lead with their second power-play of the game but ended up giving up a short-handed goal instead. Blues winger Jaden Schwartz seized the loose puck on the left-hand point from a terrible pass from Sharks vet Joe Thornton in the offensive zone. Schwartz noticed he had a two on one odd man rush the other way and decided to take off towards the net. Schwartz carried the puck all the way to the left-hand hash marks and sauced a beaut of a pass to center Kyle Brodziak on the right-hand hash marks. Martin Jones was way out of position coming over to face the shooter, again, and Brodziak promptly ripped a wrister over Jones’ blocker to triple their lead to 3-0. Brodziak’s goal was their first short-handed goal of the playoffs.
San Jose still had a minute left on the power play to try and score a goal to gain some momentum back. St. Louis shut them down again while only giving up one shot.
Believe it or not, just four minutes later the Blues would strike again. St. Louis’ 4th line was in on the attack in the offensive zone. Blues winger Dmitrij Jaskin found himself behind the Sharks’ net with the puck. Jaskin curled around the net and spotted center Kyle Brodziak on the left side hash marks and hit him with a tape to tape pass. Brodziak wasted no time after corraling the pass and rifled a nasty snap shot top cheese to take their lead to 4-0. This is now Brodziak’s first career two-goal game in the playoffs. The Blues scored at exactly the same time (10:11) in the first and second period.
San Jose’s coach Peter DeBoer took no time and quickly called for backup goalie James Reimer to come in and replace the struggling, Martin Jones. James Reimer faced only three shots in the remainder of period two. The Sharks call for a goalie change made it official that now all four teams (Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, San Jose, and St. Louis) in the Conference Finals have used both of their goalies. On the other hand, bad news for the Blues, as captain David Backes did not play a single shift in the second period, when he played 5:34 in the first, as he may have been injured in the first. St. Louis controlled the whole period again and the second period ended with the Blues up 4-0.
The Sharks looked like a new team coming right out of the break to start the third period. San Jose jumped right out of the gun and scored 1:05 into the final period to make the score 4-1. Sharks D-man Paul Martin faked a slap shot on the right-hand point and fed center Joe Thornton the puck. Thornton skated down the left side and once he got to the top of the left circle dished a beautiful saucer pass to linemate Joe Pavelski on the right side cutting to the net. Pavelski had a completely wide open net and an easy tap in goal to get the Sharks on the board and give San Jose some momentum. This was Pavelski’s league leading 10th goal of the playoffs and a new franchise record for most in a single season. He beat the previous record of nine goals held by teammate Patrick Marleau in 2010.
St. Louis would go back on the power play when Sharks newcomer Joel Ward got caught flipping the puck out of his own zone for a delay of game penalty. This sent the Blues to their 4th PP of the game. It only took “The Notes” seven seconds to cash in on their now red hot man advantage. Blues center Paul Stastny on the left-hand boards passed the puck over to fellow center Alex Steen who let a one time shot go on the right side point. Steen’s shot found the stick of winger Troy Brouwer in the slot and was redirected right under Sharks goalie James Reimer’s arm. This was Brouwer’s second power-play goal of the game and makes it 5-1.
With 6:57 gone in the third period, the Sharks would get back in the goal scoring column. The Sharks 3rd line went to work in the attacking zone as Chris Tierney got the puck below the goal line on the right side. Tierney spotted fellow winger Melker Karlsson just below the right-hand hash and hit him with a pass. Karlsson let a one-t clapper go that was saved by Jake Allen. Although, Allen sticked the rebound away to his left but the puck went right to Chris Tierney’s stick. Tierney quickly shot the puck on net and it deflected off of Jake Allen’s leg and went in the net to cut the Blues lead to 3 at 5-2.
Then just seven seconds later at the 7:07 mark of period three the Blues would take another penalty. Blues winger Jaden Schwartz tripped Sharks winger Joe Pavelski. The Sharks would go to their third PP of the game but only managed one shot and the Blues killed it off. San Jose would have numerous chances to cut into the Blues lead but goalie Jake Allen had to make two to four marvelous saves to keep the Sharks from scoring again. With three minutes later, yet again, St. Louis would get called for another infraction with Paul Stastny getting his second penalty of the game. Stastny hauled down Sharks grinder Chris Tierney. San Jose looked to try and score again quickly but the Blues halted their progress only letting one shot get on net in the two minutes.
San Jose took a page out of Colorado’s Patrick Roy book and pulled their goalie, James Reimer, with 5:05 remaining in the game. This tactic did not work to the Sharks’ liking at all. Only 44 seconds later St. Louis would tack on their final goal of the contest. Alex Pietrangelo would make a great defensive play in his own zone at the blue line, grab the loose puck, and fire it down the ice and into the empty net to get their lead back up to 4 at 6-2.
San Jose would tack on a consolation goal 49 seconds later at the 16:28 mark of period three. The Sharks third line would go back to work again in the attacking zone with center Chris Tierney corralling the vulcanized rubber behind the net and to Jake Allen’s right. Tierney centered the puck intended for winger Melker Karlsson who was parked just in front of the goal crease of to the left. The puck hit Karlsson’s skate/stick and slid in front of Jake Allen. St. Louis D-man Joel Edmundson tried poking the puck away but instead poked it through the legs of Jake Allen for an own goal. The goal was credited to the player who last touched the puck, Melker Karlsson. This was the Sharks last positive note of the game, and made the score 6-3
With 2:11 left in the game a fight broke out between Blues D-man Carl Gunnarsson and Sharks D-man Brenden Dillon. It is very rare to see a fight in the playoffs, let alone two defenders involved in it! Each player received a standard five-minute call. During the fight, St. Louis’ Alex Steen and San Jose’s Tommy Wingels both received a 10-minute misconduct. All four players hit the showers early and did not finish the game. Last but not least, the Blues took a pointless penalty with 40 seconds left in the contest with Jori Lehtera slashing Sharks’ Tomas Hertl. The game ended with the score being 6-3, a very strong win for the Blues.
St. Louis goalie Jake Allen stopped 31 out of 34 shots thrown his way for a .912 SV%. San Jose’s goalies Martin Jones stopped 15 out of 19 shots for a terrible .789 SV% and James Reimer stopped 6 out of 7 for a .857SV% in relief of Jones. San Jose led in shots (34-27), faceoffs (30-29), hits (35-26), and giveaways (19-9). St. Louis only led in blocked shots (14-11). The teams tied in penalty minutes with 25 a piece while St. Louis went an awesome 2/4 on the PP and the Sharks went a terrible 0/4.
These two clubs will get on a flight and fly back for Game 5 in St. Louis, Missouri on Monday night at 8 pm.