The Sharks trailed by one goal for the majority of the series opener, but couldn’t tally the equalizer before the final buzzer sounded, falling 2-1.
A slow start combined with neutral and defensive zone turnovers were too much for the San Jose Sharks to overcome Sunday night as they dropped Game 1 to the St. Louis Blues, 2-1 at the Scottrade Center.
Team teal got off to a slow start in the first period and were fortunate not to fall behind at the 11:35 mark when a Blues goal was cancelled out for goaltender interference. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock would challenge the call, but clearly, Sharks goaltender Martin Jones was interfered with when trying to stop the puck.
A few minutes later, though, the Blues wound up scoring anyways on a power-play, as David Backes did what he does best – work for position in front of the crease and deflect a puck in mid-air into the back of the net. It was Backes’ seventh goal of the postseason.
But just 34 seconds later, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl and Brent Burns combined for a goal where the Burns shot from the point deflected off Pavelski’s stick and then Hertl’s skate to tie things up. It wound up as Hertl’s goal – his third of the playoffs.
The two teams settled in from there until the midway point of the second period, when a poor turnover by Burns near his own blue line led to a Jori Lehtera goal, one that should have been stopped by Jones.
Aside from that goal, Jones once again did great work for the Sharks and gave them a chance to tie or win the game. The turnover was the story of the night for Burns and fellow defenseman Roman Polak, who both struggled with the puck in their own zones. Jones bailed them out on several chances, especially early on in the game.
The rest of the second period expired quietly, and in the third frame the Sharks improved, but still only had three shots in the period heading into the final three minutes of the game. Thornton and Patrick Marleau failed to connect on a very good opportunity on the power-play with 10:15 remaining, but the puck rolled off Marleau’s stick a bit and Blues goaltender Brian Elliott, who was exceptional on the night, made a save.
San Jose desperately tried for the tying goal in the final 150 seconds, registering six shots during that time before the clock hit triple zeros. While they had several strong chances, including a wide-open look in front of the net by Pavelski and a long-distance wrister by Marc-Edouard Vlasic, both would hit the post, and Elliott was too strong in net for the Sharks to get another by him.
Despite the loss and often lazy turnovers, the Sharks can take away the fact that although they did not perform up to par, they nearly sent the game into overtime and were unfortunate to not do so. The Sharks and Notes will be back at it Tuesday night in St. Louis with San Jose looking to even up this series before things shift back to the Bay Area.