San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE – Once the St. Louis Blues converted their first two power play opportunities to build a 3-1 advantage, the San Jose Sharks spent the final half of Monday’s game fruitlessly trying to pull even with the visitors.

The Blues ended up with a 4-3 victory and will carry a 2-1 lead in the best 4-of-7 Western Conference quarter-finals into Thursday night’s rematch at HP Pavilion.

The lingering question for San Jose, a consistent playoff participant over the past eight campaigns, is whether the team, having taken the best the Blues have to offer, can regroup to post its own comeback story that will allow the series to come back to San Josenext week.

Game Five of the series will be played Saturday in St. Louis. A sixth game, if needed, would be Monday night at HP Pavilion.

A review of the game might find an equal number of scoring chances for both clubs, but the timely scoring touch of the Blues, the Central Division champion, turned the tide as St. Louis posted its second consecutive win. San Jose opened the series with a 3-2 nod on Marty Havlat’s overtime goal.

San Jose put together several threats in the first two periods against Blues goaltender Brian Elliott, only to see a misplayed short pass or a convenient stick by a Blues defender get in the way of finishing off further San Jose scoring opportunities.

The Blues paced the 30-club NHL by allowing only 165 goals this season. St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock’s system, once given a two-goal advantage, led to the Blues cutting down further San Jose scoring advances for most of the final 30 minutes.

After the Sharks could not score on a power play 7:24 into the first period, the Blues did not miss their chance with the extra skater when Shark Tommy Wingels was whistled for high-sticking at the 14:00 mark.

St. Louis needed 31 seconds to take the 1-0 lead. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo whipped a low shot from the right point that bounded off the right post, settling behind goaltender Antti Niemi. Blue center Patrik Berglund quickly sliced to the blue ice to tap in the puck for his third goal of the series.

San Jose responded with a power play goal at 16:45 of the first period. Joe Thornton ignited the scoring play by collecting the puck in the defensive zone, reaching the redline before flipping a pass into the offensive zone to Brent Burns. The quick defenseman drove around two Blues and backhanded a shot past Elliott for the equalizer.

The Blues scored on their first shot of the second period to take a 2-1 lead. An icing by the Sharks gave St. Louis an offensive-zone face-off 53 seconds into the period. Alexander Steen was able to get to the puck in the right corner of the Sharks zone. Steen found Colaiacovo open for a pass at the right point. Colaiacovo’s blast hit off the leg of Berglund to an unmarked Andy McDonald at the left post for a quick shot behind Niemi.

The Blues gained the two-goal advantage by converting their second power play chance 10:06 into the second period. St. Louis needed 38 seconds to score, Jason Arnott one-timing McDonald’s cross-ice pass for his first goal of the series.

St. Louis made it 3-for-3 on the power play with Steen’s shot from the right post through traffic and past Niemi 59 seconds into the third period.

San Jose rallied for a pair of goals in the game’s final 3:02.

The teams were skating 4-on-4 when a long rebound of a shot by Ryane Clowe was fired past Elliott by Colin White at 16:58. The goal was White’s third in 112 career post-season games.

San Jose pulled Niemi for an extra skater in the closing 30 seconds.Thornton found Logan Couture ready at the low slot for a pass from the endboards. Couture’s quick release netted his first goal of the playoffs. Thornton’s three assists brought his career playoff assists total to 67.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, get focused, ready for Thursday,” Thornton said. “It was nice to see the guys not give up.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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