San Jose will look to make it six-straight victories at SAP Center and take their first series lead when they hit the ice for Game 3 against St. Louis.
The San Jose Sharks got the split they were looking for in St. Louis in the first two games, and now they will look to hold serve on home ice as they host the Blues for Game 3 in this Western Conference Final series.
San Jose has outplayed St. Louis thus far, but this series is still knotted up at one ahead of tonight’s critical matchup.
Something will have to give between these two teams as the Sharks have won five-straight games inside the friendly confines of the SAP Center, while the Blues have played better on the road with a 5-2 record in these playoffs.
It should be a fascinating contest as team teal looks to continue their momentum in what should be a revved up crowd.
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Players to Watch
Sharks: Joe Thornton. Heading out of Game 2, many were wondering if Thornton’s hand would be OK after taking a slash from Jay Bouwmeester. Thornton appears fine and ready to go for Game 3 but it’s something to keep an eye on. Although he’s yet to record a point in this series, Thornton’s line has been the best line on either side in controlling the play. Also, Thornton is the quarterback of the power play which regained their rhythm in Game 2 by going 2-for-5.
Blues: Troy Brouwer. Brouwer epitomized the frustration of the Blues in Game 2 as he was in the box for both of Brent Burns’ power-play tallies while hitting the post on two different occasions. Brouwer is part of the depth for this St. Louis squad that has been kept in check by San Jose for the most part. Brouwer has had a solid postseason run, ranking second on the Blues with five goals thus far.
Keys to the Game
1. Start Fast
The Sharks came out and set the tone with a very strong first period in Game 2, and they will look to do the same tonight. In their past two games inside the Shark Tank, San Jose has been simply dominant in the opening 20 minutes, scoring four times and creating numerous scoring chances.
Team teal wants to use their speed to feed off the energy of the crowd and keep the Blues on their heels. The ability to play from ahead will be a key for the Sharks as St. Louis is much better when they’re defending a lead rather than trying to catch up.
2. Break Outs
Part of the reason San Jose has been able to keep the Blues at bay has been their ability to get the pucks out of their zone quickly and up the ice. The Sharks blue liners need to continue to get back to pucks and make sharp, crisp passes to the forwards.
San Jose gets in trouble when they struggle out of their own zone which plays right into the St. Louis attack which prides itself in getting in on the forecheck and grinding it out. If the Sharks can maintain their forward support, it should allow them to control the pace of play.
What gets overlooked in the Game 2 win was that team teal actually took more penalties than St. Louis, but their penalty-killers were fantastic. The Sharks need to stay out of the box as a majority of the Blues best chances have come on the man advantage with 12 of their 26 shots coming on the power play in Game 2.
Let St. Louis take the unnecessary penalties and make them pay when they do so. San Jose has done a nice job of flustering the Blues to this point and want to continue the trend tonight.