Sharks' turn to try to even series with a home win
Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 10:24 AM
NHL.comBLUES at SHARKS
(St. Louis leads best-of-seven series, 2-1)
TV: NBCSN, TSN, RDS, FS-MW (HD), CSN-CA (HD)
It doesn't take long for the tide to turn in a playoff series, and after seeing the Sharks wrest away home-ice advantage by winning the opening game in double overtime, the Blues have regained it by taking the next two -- most recently Game 3 in San Jose on Monday. Now, the Sharks find themselves in the position previously occupied by the Blues, needing to earn a split in their building to avoid going down two games. Their situation is even more dire, though, because a St. Louis victory on Thursday pushes San Jose to the brink of elimination with the series shifting back to Scottrade Center on Saturday.
Having to switch your starting goalie in the postseason would be enough to throw many teams off kilter, but St. Louis was accustomed all season to alternating between Brian Elliott
and Jaroslav Halak
and winning games regardless of which one was in net. So when Halak was injured early in the second period of Game 2 and Elliott had to come in, the Blues just continued on their shutout way, tying up the series, and Elliott followed up with 26 saves in Monday's 4-3 win at HP Pavilion. Two of the goals came in the final 3:02 after the Blues had taken control of the game. Patrik Berglund
, Jason Arnott
and Alex Steen
all connected on the power play, while Andy McDonald
scored for the second consecutive game to pace the offense.
"We just do what we do," coach Ken Hitchcock said of the power play. "I don't think we get enough credit. If you look at our power play, I think we finished mid-pack, somewhere around there, but we made a heck of a climb because we were in 30th place and everybody was laughing at us around Christmas time, so we've made a heck of a climb since then. And I think our power play has been a threat now for almost 40 days. We've done good things."
Giving up four goals to the team with the NHL's stingiest defense in the regular season isn't a recipe for success, and considering San Jose had the League's 29th-ranked penalty kill and has now given up five power-play goals in 13 times shorthanded in this series, the Sharks' first order of business in Game 4 needs to be to stay out of the penalty box. On the bright side, after managing just a Brent Burns power-play goal in over 96 minutes against Elliott, the offense got goals late from Colin White and Logan Couture to perhaps put a little crack in the façade of the netminder who finished first in goals-against average and save percentage.
"Panic? Absolutely no," defenseman Dan Boyle said in the San Jose Mercury News. "It's a series. … The next game is absolutely huge. We've got to come back, get the second win, and then we start over."
Berglund now has three goals in the series, while McDonald leads the Blues with five points. … Sharks captain Joe Thornton assisted on all three of his team's goals on Monday.
Halak suffered a lower-body injury in Game 2 and didn't dress Monday as St. Louis recalled Jake Allen
from the AHL. Halak remains day-to-day.
Arnott's goal was the 32nd of his playoff career, with half coming on the power play. The Blues became the sixth different team he's recorded a postseason power-play goal for, joining the Oilers, Devils, Stars, Predators and Capitals. … White has scored on each of his last two playoff shots -- the previous one before Monday came as a member of the Devils, on April 16, 2010, in Game 2 of a first-round series against the Flyers. Prior to that, White didn't have a playoff goal since 2000.
In spite of Thornton's trifecta of assists in Game 3, the top line for San Jose has yet to score a goal in the series. In fact, other than those Thornton helpers they haven't managed a point -- Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski still have all zeroes next to their names in the scoring columns. That's something else that must change for the Sharks to get back in this series.
"Obviously there's a time factor," Marleau said in the Mercury News. "We need to win. So we'd like to see some pucks start to go in. Once you do let pressure start to set in, it's over. So we need to focus on figuring this out."