San Jose played perhaps their worst game of these playoffs as St. Louis snapped team teal’s six-game win streak in Game 4.
The San Jose Sharks picked an inopportune time to lay an egg, but that’s what they did in Game 4 of this Western Conference Final series. The Sharks had a chance to put the St. Louis Blues behind the eight ball with a win, but the Blues came out with their best effort of the series to rout San Jose 6-3 and knot things up at two with the series shifting back to Scottrade Center on Monday night.
St. Louis would come out much like they did in the first few minutes of Game 3 and apply some pressure against San Jose.
Some of that pressure would pay off as Brent Burns would take a tripping penalty at the 5:00 mark. The Blues would finally find the back of the net as Troy Brouwer buried one off a nice tic-tac-toe passing play.
It was a bittersweet goal as Brouwer should’ve received a penalty after a hit to the head of Tomas Hertl early on, but the refs let it go. The goal also ended Martin Jones’ shutout streak at 153 minutes and 57 seconds after making 62-straight saves and posting back-to-back shutouts in the two previous contests.
After taking advantage of multiple turnovers by the Blues in Game 3, it was St. Louis’ turn to capitalize on mistakes by the boys in teal.
A Paul Martin misplay, one of the few he’s made all season, resulted in Jones making an absolutely brilliant save off Robby Fabbri, but Burns ended up kicking the rebound away from his crease right on to the stick of Jori Lehtera who doubled the St. Louis lead just past the midpoint of the opening frame.
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It was by far the best period from the Blues as they were able to get in on the forecheck and apply the kind of pressure they’re used to, outshooting the home team by a 13-10 margin.
Things didn’t start out too well for team teal in the second either as after a carry-over penalty from Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Logan Couture would take a delay of game minor which gave the visitors a 5-on-3 advantage for 48 seconds.
Fortunately for San Jose, they did a great job of killing off the Blues attack and were given a man advantage opportunity of their own more than five minutes into the period.
The turnover bug would creep into the Sharks power play though as a Joe Thornton pass intended for Joe Pavelski in the slot would miss, springing St. Louis on a 2-on-1 the other way. They’d make no mistake as Jaden Schwartz fed Kyle Brodziak who beat a sliding Jones who overplayed the short side.
The goal epitomized the night for team teal who’s execution was not at the level it needed to be.
Then, Brodziak would put the final nail in the coffin four minutes later when he’d net his second of the night off a feed from Dmitrij Jaskin from behind the net to chase Jones from the game. Again, the play could’ve been avoided as Roman Polak had a chance to clear, but couldn’t, resulting in the puck finding the back of the net.
From then on, the Sharks created a few chances but Blues netminder Jake Allen, who got the start over Brian Elliott, stood tall making a couple of saves late to keep San Jose off the scoreboard.
Those saves from Allen would be big as just 1:05 into the third, Thornton would thread the needle right on to the stick of Pavelski for an easy tap-in as the Sharks would get on the board. The goal was the 10th of the postseason for the captain which set a new franchise record.
San Jose had a little bit of a push following the goal but another mistake from team teal would end up in the net. Joel Ward would go off on a delay of game penalty, and Brouwer would take just seven seconds to cash in as he deflected an Alexander Steen blast from the point for his second power-play tally of the night.
The goal would seemingly put things out of reach again, but team teal wouldn’t go quietly as the third line did some nice forechecking work. Chris Tierney would end up with the puck on his stick and he would bank one in off a sprawling Allen to cut the lead back to three.
The Sharks would get a couple of power play opportunities following the Tierney goal but couldn’t convert despite a couple of glorious chances.
Alex Pietrangelo and Melker Karlsson would trade late tallies as San Jose at least put up some sort of fight in the third, outshooting St. Louis by a 16-5 margin.
But the damage had already been done as the Blues deserved the victory as the Sharks will have to tighten up their game and make some adjustments.
St. Louis deserves credit for coming out and establishing their game in this one, but San Jose was way too sloppy with the puck and created problems for themselves.
It all sets up a pivotal matchup in Game 5 on Monday night as the Sharks and Blues lay it all on the line.