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Uncharted Sharks Territory
Sharks notch 11th win in the playoffs
5/23/16 - By Mike Lee -

The San Jose Sharks have gone where no Sharks team has ever gone before. They won their 11th game in the playoffs on Monday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Finals with a hard fought 6-3 win over the St Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center in Missouri. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski scored the tying goal late in the 2nd period, then bagged the game winner 16 seconds into the 3rd period to propel San Jose. The Sharks sit one win away from their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, which they can lock up at home on Wednesday night in Game 6.

That elusive 12th victory has been a mere fantasy for the past 25 years, but the Sharks can win the conference if they turn in the same 40 minutes that helped them win the 2nd and 3rd periods in Game 5. The momentum shifts help the Sharks back into the drivers seats, breaking the home ice advantage that St Louis has held twice in this series.

As has been the case in every game so far, the team that scored first, ended up winning the game. Marc-Edouard Vlasic kept the pattern in tact by scoring goal his 1st goal of the playoffs 3:51 into the game. Vlasic gathered a Pavelski feed from along the blueline and then ripped a shot from the left point. Tomas Hertl created traffic out in front of Jake Allen, who was making hi second straight start. Allen got the glove hand up, but it was a puck width short of Vlasic's shot.

Jaden Schwartz tied the game 2 minutes later, following up on a big rebound off Sharks goaltender Martin Jones with a shot form the left side. Patrik Berglund bounced a shot off Jones from the left wing boards, but David Backes pushed the puck clear of Jones control. Schwartz swooped around Backes as Brendan Dillon and Roman Polak were tied up by the Blues captain. Berglund lifted a shot that banked off Jones' chest and into the net.

Troy Brouwer gave the Blues a 2-1 lead with just under 5 minutes to play in the period by swatting a deflection out of the air from the left side. Once again, Jones gave a big rebound after Paul Stastny ripped a shot from the high slot. With the puck lofting in the air, Brower swooped in and swiped at the puck, knocking it past Jones.

The 2nd period turned into a clinic on how not to behave in a crucial playoff game.

First Kevin Shattenkirk went after Tommy Wingels after the Sharks forward checked him along the boards just outside the Sharks bench. Shattenkirk elected to crosscheck Wingels across the side of the head, dropping the forward like a stone. It appeared that Shattenkirk was either incensed with the hit or believed that Wingels embellished the crosscheck, so he went after him a second time, laying another cross check across the back as his victim lay face down on the ice.

The ensuing power play would prove costly to St Louis. Joel Ward swatted a knee-high deflection into a wide open net after Vlasic put a shot off of Allen from the left dot. Allen caught a piece of the puck, but it flipped end over end directly to the goal mouth where Ward was lurking for the nifty piece of stick work that was a great display of hand-eye coordination.

Polak then experienced a temporary lapse in judgment when he elected to punch Dmitrij Jasken after the Blues forward appeared to slew foot the Sharks defenseman. Polak lost his mind as he tried to go after Jasken after the two were separated by the linesmen.

That exchange resulted in a Blues power play they then proceeded to cash in on. Robby Fabbri cranked a shot from the blueline that just slipped under Jones' left leg pad, pushing St Louis back on top 3-2.

While not a behavioral issue, but the Blues setup one final Sharks power play int he period when Shattenkirk was forced to hook Hertl after the young Czech forward took a long lead pass from Brent Burns and raced in on Allen with a short breakaway.

The Sharks big guns made Shattenkirk pay a second time in the period, when Thornton setup Pavelski with a one-timer off a pass from behind the Blues net. Pavelski found a soft spot in the Blues defense 18 feet outside the crease and easily buried his shot as Allen tried tracking Thornton's pass by sliding across his crease from right to left. Pavelski shot right, burying his 11th goal of the playoffs.

The Sharks captain added his 12th tally of the NHL's second season 16 seconds into the 3rd period, with another piece of stick related master craftsmanship. Burns fired a shot form the right point that was destined to sail wide of the left post, but Pavelski intercepted the shot by getting his stick on the waist high shot. The puck made a 45 degree right turn, tucking inside the right post for the 4-3 Sharks lead.

A one-goal lead was precarious given St Louis home ice advantage, but the Blues simplified things for the Sharks by taking a penalty for too many men at 4:52. The Sharks did the rest by rolling four lines that relentlessly moved the puck when they controlled it, and left the Blues with little time to react when the puck was in St Louis possession.

St Louis came within a hair of tying the game toward the midway mark of the period when a Blues shot glanced the left post. The shot would have found the back of the net had defenseman Justin Braun not partially deflect it.

That was close as St Louis would get. Even after pulling Allen with 2 minutes to play, the Sharks were quicker to the puck and hemmed the Blues in their own zone until Thornton wound a puck around the end boards to Christ Tierney for a wrap-around empty net goal.

Ward added another empty-netter for good measure with under a minute to play.

The final horn sounded and the Sharks congratulated Jones on the ice as if it were any regular season game. No hoopla. No hugging. Just simple hand shakes an fist bumps, knowing that one game sits between them and a chance to play for the Stanley Cup.

Game Notes:

* Defenseman Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic led all skaters with 4 shots each.

* In a show of how the Sharks have been able to distribute the ice time across all four of their lines, the Sharks had 9 players record points in the win.

* As has been a bit of a positive omen, the Sharks continued to underachieve in the faceoff circle. The Sharks only converted 27 of 58 faceoffs (47%).

* The two guys with the fewest minutes were the biggest hitters for San Jose. Tommy Wingels and Dainius Zubrus each layed 5 hits on the opposition, which was of particular relevance in the 3rd period as the Blues were trying to mount a comeback.

* Vladimir Tarasenko continued to struggle in the series. The 40-goal scorer does not have a point in the series, and is a -4 through 5 games. He was a -2 on Monday night and had a single shot on goal.

* Vlasic led all skaters with 4 blocked shots.





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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 2 3 6
STL 2 1 0 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Vlasic 1 (Pavelski, Thornton), 3:51. 2, STL, Schwartz 4 (Backes, Berglund), 7:04. 3, STL, Brouwer 8 (Stastny, Steen), 15:08.
2nd period - 4, SJ, Ward 3 (Vlasic, Martin), 4:37, (pp). 5, STL, Fabbri 4 (Parayko, Pietrangelo), 11:58, (pp). 6, SJ, Pavelski 11 (Thornton, Couture), 18:33, (pp).
3rd period - 7, SJ, Pavelski 12 (Burns, Hertl), 0:16. 8, SJ, Tierney 5 (Thornton), 19:06, (en). 9, SJ, Ward 4 (unassisted), 19:27, (en).
Penalties
1st period - None.
2nd period - Wingels, SJ (fighting major), 2:38; Shattenkirk, STL (roughing), 2:38; Shattenkirk, STL (fighting major), 2:38; Braun, SJ (holding), 8:03; Polak, SJ (roughing), 11:01; Polak, SJ (fighting major), 11:01; Jaskin, STL (fighting major), 11:01; Shattenkirk, STL (hooking), 17:08; Marleau, SJ (triping), 5:33.
3rd period - Bench, STL (too many men), 4:52; Marleau, SJ (tripping), 5:33.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 21 18
STL - Allen 25 21
STL - empty net 2 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 10 8 9 27
STL 9 5 7 21
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 3
STL 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Pavelski
Robby Fabbri
Joe Thornton
Attendance
19,372
Officials
Referees: Furlatt, Sutherland. Linesmen: Amell, Racicot.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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