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WCF Game 2: Sharks fizzle in 4-2 loss
San Jose loses home ice for the 3rd consecutive series
5/13/19 - By Mike Lee -

For whatever reason, the Sharks don't care too much for Game 2's. Playing in their third Game 2 of the playoffs, San Jose misfired for a third consecutive time on Monday night, dropping a 4-2 decision to the St Louis Blues in their Western Conference Finals match up at SAP Center. The Sharks played an uninspired game, devoid of much action to get the sellout crowd involved. If not for a pair of strikes from Logan Couture, the Sharks were muted by the Blues in their own barn. The loss evens their best of seven series at one game a piece.

The Blues hard nosed play seemed to rattle the Sharks, who completely changed their style of play from Game 1, electing to play their perimeter game that has been consistently fruitless. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington certainly had no issue stopping whatever the Sharks threw at him, albeit from distance.

It was a frustrating departure from the dominant performance 48 hours earlier. The Sharks simply seemed afraid to venture to the front of the Blues net for fear of the pounding that the St Louis players were going to deal once they entered the offensive zone.

The players that are paid to deliver, didn't, with the exception of Couture. The players that are inexperienced, played like unseasoned rookies. The Sharks third line encapsulated that in a microcosm. Joe Thornton was a sluggish shell of himself, and Kevin Labanc was a bone fide disaster. When Thornton wasn't coughing up the puck, he was taking lazy penalties.

Labanc was on the ice for 3 of the 4 Blues goals, as he seemed to forget how to play defense. His one big scoring chance was snuffed out by a defender who blocked a shot on goal because he simply couldn't elevate the puck.

Martin Jones reverted to bad Martin Jones, surrendering goals within the first 5 minutes of the 1st and 2nd periods.

The first came 2:34 into the game when Jaden Schwartz converted his 9th goal of the playoffs. The Blues forward traded passes with Vladimir Tarasenko as he peeled off the left wing boards, then moved to a spot between four Shark defenders before picking the top right corner and sniping an 18-foot shot past Jones.

San Jose came to life in the second half of the period, but they insisted on trying to work pucks past Binnington with shot from the point or with prayers from the corners that had no chance. St Louis survived to the 1st intermission with the 1-0 lead, having been out-shot 9-6 in the period.

Evander Kane helped snuff out some of the Sharks momentum when he took a bad tripping penalty with 4:14 left in the frame.

Vince Dunn pushed the Blues lead to 2-0 just 4:16 into the 2nd period. Sammy Blais man-handled Joakim Ryan in front of the net, setting the perfect screen for Dunn's shot from the high slot. The Blues won a faceoff then moved the puck around the right corner, before it was worked back out to Dunn at the blueline.

Marcus Sorensen was called for a phantom interference penalty that had the home crowd up in arms. Couture turned the tables on St Louis when he blocked an Alex Pietrangelo pass attempt at the blueline, then raced up ice before beating Binnington with a backhand chance that slipped underneath the Blues goaltender.

Moments after Sorensen stepped back on the ice after his teammates killed his penalty, the Blues turned the puck over in the Sharks zone. Timo Meier grabbed the loose puck and fired a pass up ice to Coutture who had a step on Pietrangelo once again. This time, Couture whipped a shot at Binnington, beating him through the 5-hole to tie the game.

Couture's goals re-energized the home crowd, whipping the building into a frenzy. That energy seemed to tilt the ice in the Sharks favor, but their complacency prevented any further scoring. It was a huge missed opportunity, with the seed of doubt planted in the Blues rookie goaltender's head.

Robert Bortuzzo scored what would amount to the game winning goal with 3:26 left in the middle frame. The Blues fourth liner looked like a 50-goal scorer as he took a Joel Edmundson pass on the right side, then cut across the slot and lifted a backhand chance that beat Jones who was sliding in the opposite direction.

With the glimmer of hope that was the 3rd period, San Jose played what might be their worst period of hockey in the playoffs. The Sharks managed a single shot on goal through the first 11 minutes of the period. It was simply a deflating performance from a team that held the series lead, and was on home ice in one of the loudest barns in the league.

They simply didn't show up in that last period.

A Robert Thomas hooking penalty midway through the period setup what could have been a magical comeback, but the Sharks power play was as disjointed as its been this season. The Sharks couldn't enter the Blues zone without coughing up the puck for easy clears.

Once it was clear the power play would play no factor in the game, Thornton took a tripping penalty to help kill another 2 minutes off the clock.

Tomas Hertl's lazy blind pass in the Blues zone led to the back breaker, when Alexander Steen raced up the right wing with the turnover before sliding a pass to Oskar Sundqvist who lifted another shot past Jones at 16:52.

Game Notes:

* Logan Couture scored his 100th career NHL playoff point with his 2nd goal. He reached that mark in fewer games than any other player in franchise history.

* Couture became the 29th player in NHL history to have 4 multi-goal games in a playoffs. It was the first playoff short-handed goal for Couture.

* St Louis out-hot San Jose 35-28, but that stat was deceiving. St Louis hit players with force, while the Sharks made little effort to body up opposing players with much force.

* Kevin Labanc was a minus 3 and accounted for 3 shots on goal. He didn't provide much more value.

* The Evander Kane search still continues. The forward continues to be AWOL in the playoffs, generating a single shot on goal in 18:50 of ice time. Signed to being some scoring punch to the Sharks offense, Kane has recorded 2 goals in 16 playoff games thus far.

* The one positive for San Jose is that they continue to clamp down on Vladimir Tarasenko, who led St Louis in shots (6) on the night but has not scored a goal in the first two games of the series.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
STL 1 2 1 4
SJ 0 2 0 2
1st period - 1, STL, Schwartz 9 (Tarasenko, Edmundson), 2:34.
2nd period - 2, STL, Dunn 2 (O'Reilly, Perron), 4:16. 3, SJ, Couture 12 (unassisted), 4:55, (sh). 4, SJ, Couture 13 (Meier), 6:54. 5, STL, Bortuzzo 1 (Edmundson, Bozak), 16:34.
3rd period - 6, STL, Sundqvist 3 (Steen, Pietrangelo), 16:52.
Penalties
1st period - Hertl, SJ (tripping), 4:04; Bouwmeester, STL (tripping), 6:34; Kane, SJ (tripping), 15:46.
2nd period - Sorensen, SJ (interference), 4:42; Dillon, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 19:31.
3rd period - Thomas, STL (hooking), 10:37; Thornton, SJ (tripping), 12:42.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
STL - Binnington 26 24
SJ - Jones 25 21
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
STL 6 9 10 25
SJ 9 6 11 26
Power Play Conversion
STL 0 of 5
SJ 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Robert Bortuzzo
Logan Couture
Joel Edmundson
Attendance
SAP Center - 17,562
Officials
Referees: McCauley, Charron. Linesmen: Amell, Cherrey.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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