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Simple mistakes cost Sharks Game 1
Blues take tightly contested 2-1 game
5/15/16 - By Mike Lee -

The Western Conference Finals kicked off in St Louis on Sunday night, but an absence of the fire that carried them to a Game 7 win in the Conference Semi-Finals doomed the Sharks to a 2-1 loss at the hands of the host Blues. San Jose showed some signs of life after falling behind to the Blues, but in the playoffs, you need to seize control of the game. They didn't do that, and find themselves in 1-0 series hole.

What the game revealed is that this series is going to be a tight series, and the team that makes the fewest mistakes will likely move on. Seizing the lead is also something the Sharks will need to figure out in a hurry. They played from behind all night, never holding a lead, and had to take chances they likely wouldn't in a tie game or with the lead.

Once the Blues grabbed the 2-1 lead, they went into typical Ken Hitchcock defensive mode that leaves little opportunities for scoring chance. The Sharks didn't have many the rest of the evening.

The game also came down to mistakes who made the fewest. That wasn't San Jose. Their game came down to a pair of gaffs that would eventually cost them the game.

The Sharks dodged a bullet 11:35 into the game when Patrik Berglund appeared to have scored a goal from the Sharks crease, but an official review ruled that Berglung backed into Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, denying him of the right to play the puck. Replays showed that Sharks defenseman actually tipped the puck into his own zone as he tried to fish it out from between Berglund's skates.

The Blues would make one count less than 4 minutes later when David Backes deflected a Kevin Shattenkirk shot from the high slot, after Logan Couture was sent off for tripping. Backes parked himself at the top of the crease, much like Berglund did on the overturned goal. Shattenkirk sent a shot that was crest high on the left half of the net that Backes clipped with the shaft of his stick.

San Jose answered 34 seconds later when Joe Pavelski did his best Backes imitation by deflecting a Brent Burns blast past former college teammate Brian Elliott. Burns ripped his blast form the right point as Pavelski positioned himself on the right side of the slot.

The ice started to tilt toward Elliott in the 2nd period, but the Sharks made that one mistake that ended up costing them. Brent Burns was backing into his own zone with the puck when he tried to float it up ice to a Sharks forward. Unfortunately for Burns, Jori Lehtera was clearly in between Burns and his target, so the Blues forward easily intercepted the pass before entering the Sharks zone. Burns then failed to take away a shooting lane, allowing Lehtera to tee up a shot from the left dot that Martin Jones failed to glove.

Jones inability to control what amounted to a very stoppable shot, netted a period of domination that netted the Sharks a deficit. Those outcomes end up costing you in the playoffs.

It cost the Sharks Game 1.

Referee Eric Furlatt struck again late in the 2nd period when he blew a play dead with a live puck sitting next to Elliott in the crease. The Blues goaltender never controlled the puck, but Furlatt made the assumption that he had as Pavelski swooped in to tap the loose puck across the goal line. It was Furlatt who erroneously blew the overtime goal call that cost Sharks Game 4 in the Western Conference Quarter Finals against the Nashville Predators.

A Paul Stastny hooking penalty in the 3rd period setup the Sharks 3rd power play of the night. The special teams turned out to be an over-hyped aspect of the Sharks game that netted them nothing. The Blues had more scoring chances on the Stastny penalty kill than the Sharks did.

Elliott got some help from the hockey gods with just under 3 minutes to play when a Vlasic shot hit the left post, then came back and hit him in the back before deflecting to the right side of the crease. Patrick Marleau was checked off the puck, denying a chance for a follow up shot.

A wild flurry by the Sharks over the last 3 minutes made for some exciting hockey, but no scoring, which wasn't what San Jose needed. They controlled the puck for lengthy spans of time in the St Louis zone, but they couldn't crack Elliott.

Too much reliance on point shots just didn't pay any dividends. It's a desperate strategy that shows no creativity from an offensive standpoint. On a night when the breaks weren't coming, they needed a little more creativity.

Taking 80-foot shots with the hope you're going to deflect the puck past a hot goaltender isn't much of a strategy. San Jose finds themselves in a 1-0 hole as a result.

Game Notes:

* Joe Pavelski led all skaters with 7 shots on goal.

* Big money players like Patrick Marleau generated 1 shot on goal for the Sharks. Marleau was a non-factor all night.

* In a big shift from the first two series, the Sharks won the faceoff battle, taking 40 of 70 draws (57%).


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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 0 0 1
STL 1 1 0 2
1st period - 1, STL, Backes 7 (Shattenkirk, Schwartz), 15:04, (pp). 2, SJ, Hertl 3 (Pavelski, Burns), 15:38.
2nd period - 3, STL, Lehtera 2 (unassisted), 9:15.
3rd period - None.
1st period - Lehtera, STL (interference), 3:56; Couture, SJ (tripping), 13:56; Ott, STL (slashing), 17:18.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - Stastny, STL (hooking), 8:44; Hertl, SJ (tripping), 11:06.
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 23 21
STL - Elliott 33 32
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 8 16 9 33
STL 11 5 7 23
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
STL 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Brian Elliott
David Backes
Jori Lehtera
Referees: Furlatt, Sutherland. Linesmen: Amell, Racicot.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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