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WCF Game 4: No urgency for San Jose
Blues even series with 2-1 win at home
4/16/19 - By Mike Lee -

After getting shutout in Game 4 of their quarter finals match-up with the Vegas Knights and their semi-finals match-up with the Colorado Avalanche, you can claim a small victory for the San Jose Sharks on Friday night. They didn't get shutout by the St Louis Blues, but they did fall 2-1, which begs raises a different concern. That being that the Sharks have a difficult time getting prepared for games which afford them the ability to step on their opponents throat.

For a third consecutive series, the Sharks failed to build on a 2-1 series lead and now head home with a best of three opportunity in front of them. The Sharks did win back home ice advantage by winning Game 3 on Wednesday night, but their lack of urgency in Game 4 left everyone still wondering. Is this a team that's serious about trying to win a Stanley Cup?

Many of the bad habits that have plagued the Sharks resurfaced on Friday. Giving up goals early to start a game made an appearance. Playing perimeter hockey, rather than taking the fight to the front of the net was back. A lack of urgency until it was too late had a staring role in Game 4, and it cost the Sharks.

It cost them a chance to head home and close out the Conference Finals and prepare for the Boston Bruins. By virtue of losing on Friday, the Sharks ensured that the Bruins will have a full 10 days of rest before the start of the Stanley Cup Finals. That's an advantage that teams can only dream of. San Jose served it up on a silver platter at Enterprise Center on Friday night.

St Louis took all of 35 seconds to get a puck past Martin Jones. Ivan Barbashev snapped a shot from the slot that appeared to deflected by Marc-Edouard Vlasic's stick as the defenseman tried to get his blade in front of Barbashev's attempt.

Brendan Dillon was called for holding the stick at 5:09, which was an about face from Game 3 where nothing short of sodomizing an opponent was called. The early energy that St Louis brought to the start of the game did not translate into a strong power play showing for the Blues.

The Sharks best scoring chance of the period came with 3:21 remaining in the frame when Melker Karlsson found himself with the puck in front of the Blues net and nary a defender in sight. The Sharks forward took forever to decide on a shot, then tried to lift one from 8 feet out, only to be snuffed out by Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington.

Timo Meier was sent off on what was formally cited as hooking at 17:44, but it was about as soft a penalty as they come. Justin Braun turned the horrendous call into a goal for St Louis when he kicked a deflected puck past his own goaltender to make it a 2-0 Blues lead.

Sammy Blais was called for hooking Tomas Hertl at 5:41 of the 2nd period, but the Sharks lethargic approach to the power play netted them a pair of harmless shot, but no goal.

Brayden Schenn appeared to give the Sharks another power play 3 minutes later, but the linesmen huddled and tacked on a slashing penalty to Marc-Edouard Vlasic to offset Schenn's infraction. San Jose used the opportunity to try and find a hole in Binnington, but they would not generate any quality scoring chances on the 4-on-4.

The Sharks finally enjoyed some sustained pressure in the Sharks zone at the end of the period, but Brent Burns chance from the right side clanked off the crossbar, leaving the Sharks searching for answers.

Brendan Dillon was called for a phantom high sticking penalty at 4:35 of the 3rd period, but Alex Pietrangelo countered the infraction with an interference penalty. That left the Sharks with 1:20 of power play time, which they used to cut the St Louis lead to 2-1.

Burns fired a shot on net from the left point, but Binnington made the stop. the Blues netminder didn't control the shot however, allowing Tomas Hertl to swipe at the loose puck and knock it home for his 10th goal of the playoffs.

Barbashev was sent off for tripping at 9:52 to give the Sharks their 3rd power play chance of the game. Rather then build on the previous power play, San Jose reverted to a discombobulated approach that did little more than burn valuable time off the clock.

The Sharks were so disorganized that they got crossed up on a line change, when they needed to be mounting sustained pressure on Binnington. Instead, Dillon sent a pass to the bench were bodies were flying on an off the ice. That resulted in a too many men penalty that crippled the Sharks chances at establishing that pressure.

San Jose finally established a foot hold in the Blues zone, and when they pulled Jones with 2 minutes to play, they looked as if they might pull another rabbit out of their hat. Logan Couture may have played that card in Game 3, but he or his teammates didn't have the card up their sleeve this time.

Binnington was aided by 21 blocked shots in front of him, but none were more important then those that came in that last 5 minutes. The Sharks relied on long range shots, hoping for a deflection, but the Blues defenders never let anything get to a secondary level. Game 4 was lost.

Game Notes:

* Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson was noticeably absent for much of the last 8 minutes of regulation. He did skate one shift but it raises questions about the condition of the groin injury that sidelined him for weeks during the regular season.

* Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was forced to shuffle his lines in order to spark some response from his lethargic offense. Joonas Donskoi was moved up to the 2nd line, Melker Karlsson had a shot on Joe Thornton's line. Nothing seemed to work.

* Hard to blame Martin Jones for the two St Louis goals. Marc-Edouard Vlassic redirected the first goal with his stick and Justin Braun booted the second goal right between the wickets.

* Despite missing so much time in the 3rd period, Erik Karlsson still led the Sharks in shots on goal. The Sharks defense accounted for 9 of the San Jose's 30 shots on goal.

* San Jose scored 1 goal in 9 Game 4 periods thus far in the playoffs. The Sharks held 2-1 series leads against Colorado and St Louis, but left those cities tied 2-2. They left Vegas down 3 games to 1.

* The Sharks loss guarantees that the series will return to St Louis on Tuesday, May 21st for Game 6.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 0 1 1
STL 2 0 0 2
1st period - 1, STL, Barbashev 1 (unassisted), 0:35. 2, STL, Bozak 4 (Maroon, Tarasenko), 17:53, (pp).
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 3, SJ, Hertl 10 (Burns, E. Karlsson), 6:48, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Dillon, SJ (holding the stick), 5:09; Meier, SJ (hooking), 17:44.
2nd period - Blais, STL (hooking), 5:41; Vlasic, SJ (slashing), 8:24; Schenn, STL (roughing), 8:24.
3rd period - Dillon, SJ (high sticking), 4:35; Peitrangelo, STL (interference), 6:01; Barbashev, STL (tripping), 9:52; Bench, SJ (too many men), 12:33.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 22 20
STL - Binnington 30 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 9 11 10 30
STL 10 8 4 22
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 3
STL 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Jordan Binnington
Tyler Bozak
Colten Parayko
Attendance
Enterprise Center - 18,496
Officials
Referees: Dwyer, Rooney. Linesmen: Devorski, Berg.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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