The San Jose Sharks quieted the St. Louis Blues with their lethal weapons, striving through the heavy hits to a 6-3 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
It was a tale of two board games in an electrifying atmosphere at SAP Center during the San Jose Sharks Round 3 opener.
Team Teal mastered the moves in a magnificent game of chess while the St. Louis Blues brought the thunder with heavy-hitting checkers.
Despite the physical adversity, San Jose dominated wielding weapons of wonder, propelling the Sharks to a hard-fought 6-3 victory to take a 1-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Execution of Craft ~ Honing your craft is key to any job, and the Sharks displayed their skill set and depth, putting the perfect finishing touches from all angles.
The Sharks jumped out early on offense with a 2-on-1 rush. Gustav Nyquist dished a sweet saucer to Logan Couture. The Sharks leading playoff scorer rifled the puck into the wide open net for the series-opening goal, and SAP Center erupted with excitement.
Moments later, the Sharks went to work on the power play after a pair of St. Louis defensemen took unnecessary trips to the box.
That gave the San Jose Sharks the chance to unleash the two-headed monster of Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns at 5-on-3.
A sneaky slap-pass from Brent Burns to Joe Pavelski left him all alone to show off his superb hand-eye coordination.
After a mid-air juggling act, the captain swatted in his own rebound, and San Jose regained the lead 2-1.
Kevin Labanc showed off his sniping wizardry against the Golden Knights and the Avalanche. Now in Round 3 it seems like Labanc has picked up right where he left off.
Joe Thornton dumped the puck into the offensive zone, setting up Labanc to light the lamp for the fourth time in the postseason.
Timo Meier: A One-Man Wrecking Crew ~ My, Oh Meier! The 22-year-old power forward completely undressed the St. Louis Blues defense with his filthy hands.
After pickpocketing Colton Parayko at the blue line, Timo Meier dashed by the flatfooted Jay Bouwmeester and capped off the marvelous move with a one-handed touch past Binnington.
Meier was not done. Timo Time struck once again with some fortune.
A Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot caromed behind the net sporadically to Meier, who fired the puck off Binnington’s numbers and over the red line surprisingly for the Sharks fifth goal of the night.
Heavy Hits ~ After the first period, the Blues compiled 22 hits, targeting the San Jose Sharks lethal weapons of Logan Couture and Erik Karlsson.
St. Louis piled up 41 hits and threw down the gloves after the Sharks nailed in the coffin with the empty-netter.
It’s still worth noting that Karlsson is not 100% healthy. While he did collect a helper on Pavelski’s power-play goal, he also racked up a game-high 26:02 TOI. From puck-drop to the final whistle, Erik Karlsson absorbed heavy blows and questionable checks in the defensive zone all night.
The back pressure by the Blues defense also took a toll right from the get-go. After driving hard to the blue crease, Logan Couture fell down and crashed in an awkward position into the boards. As a result, the Blues countered the other way, and Jaden Schwartz stymied Jones with a bullet to the back of the net.
Last series, the Sharks got away with the smaller-sized Avalanche, using speed and determination to rise to the top of the mountain.
Against the hard-nosed Blues, that formula won’t work the same way. The hitting will ware down the Sharks over the course of the series. And if the Western Conference Finals needs seven games, it’s going to be a long, gruesome battle.
The Sharks look to hunt down a commanding 2-0 series lead with the same strategy Monday Night at the Tank.