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Blues Have the Sharks
Right Where They Want Them
The stage had been set, the lines drawn. The San Jose Sharks needed a win Thursday night as they took on the St. Louis Blues at HP Pavilion in Game 4. Trailing 2-1 the Sharks did not want to dig a deeper hole as they travel back to St. Louis for Game 5 Saturday night. San Jose has had a tough time handling the Blues; their speed, their defense, and their power play which has turned up 5 goals in this series. San Jose’s power kill had been less than stellar and with line changes for Thursday’s game there was hope for a more level playing field.
The first period went the Blues way as they scored at 8:30 off the stick of #26 B J Crombeen scoring his first goal of the playoffs. He was assisted by #21 Patrik Berglund and #57 David Perron for the early 1-0 lead. The period would end with the St. Louis one goal advantage.
The Sharks had one power play that came up empty in that period.
San Jose had a second power play early in the second period that also came up empty. That power play was followed by a St. Louis power play, their first of the game, and San Jose would be put to the test. The Sharks power kill held off the Blues as the second period neared the mid-way point which had to be a real confidence builder for San Jose considering the success that St. Louis had been having on power play in this series.
The Sharks went on their third power play of the period but complicated matters went they committed a slashing penalty. Killing the second St. Louis power play of the game San Jose was a lot more solid on their power kill but hadn’t been able to get one past Blues goalie #1 Brian Elliott to tie up the game. It became very evident that the sell-out crowd was becoming very restless as the Sharks took the advantage of shots on goal 16-14. As Joe Thornton had once put it, the more shots you take the better chance you have to put one in. Although simple in concept it’s just a little more difficult to execute in a playoff situation. Coming away empty off some pretty nice scoring opportunities in the second, the Sharks were down to one period to tie up this game.
The third period brought with it a more aggressive Black and Teal taking shot after shot but still unable to get one past Elliott. Mid-way through the period San Jose would go on power play number four. With 32 seconds left on that penalty Patrick Marleau was called for interference and the Sharks would be challenged once again. Unable to hold off St. Louis this time the Blues would score their first power play goal of the game and take the lead 2-0 with 8 minutes left in the game as Andy McDonald scored his third goal of the playoffs.
It felt like déjà vu when #19 Joe Thornton scored with one minute left in the game. Fighting again, as in game 3, for the tie, the Sharks were unable to score as the game ended.
The Sharks could not be more behind the eight ball if they tried. You could hear a pin drop in the locker room, a feat in itself since the locker room is carpeted, as San Jose players faced the media. “We didn’t win so now we put ourselves in a corner and we just have to fight our way back,” said Joe Thornton. “It is what it is and we’re behind the eight ball and now we just got to win games,” he said. He is well aware of the challenge that the Blues bring to the table. “They play very very tight in both ends and you don’t get too many looks. When you do you’ve got to bear down and put it in.”
“They’re in the lanes and doing a good job of blocking the shots when they can and forcing us to shoot wide. That’s good defense, that’s what they do, they pride themselves on that,” said defenseman Dan Boyle. He felt that the team had a number of good looks but were unable to capitalize on them. “It’s frustrating but you get over it and move on and try to fight through it.”
Being in a situation like this is not foreign to San Jose when you look back at the manner in which they ended their regular season. They were behind that eight ball over and over again and fought their way out of it into the post-season. They now have the fight of their lives this Saturday in St. Louis in the crucial game 5. For the team now one has to believe that where there’s life, there’s hope. Cliché? Maybe, but what good does it do to think otherwise?
Copy Rights of Bay Area Sports Drive (2012)