Big Story: It's been 10 years since St. Louis last won a round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but all that can change with Game 5 on Saturday night at Scottrade Center. Since losing the first game of this series against the Sharks in double overtime, the Blues have won three in a row -- including a sweep at HP Pavilion to take a commanding 3-1 lead. San Jose has yet to solve goalie Brian Elliott or figure out how to stop Andy McDonald and Patrik Berglund, and the late goal by Joe Thornton in Game 4 was the first from its top line in the postseason.
Sharks: Coming from behind in the third period and capturing Game 1 in the second extra period to steal home ice seemed like a huge boost at the time for San Jose, which was swept by St. Louis in the regular-season series. But the Sharks were unable to build on that advantage and are now tasked with winning three straight against a Blues team that has beaten them seven out of eight tries. They were 67 seconds from being blanked on Thursday before Thornton scored off an assist from new linemate Logan Couture, who took the place of Patrick Marleau on the No. 1 line along with Joe Pavelski. Coach Todd McLellan said it was the Sharks' best 60-minute effort of the playoffs, but the team still needs to solve its scoring woes in order to postpone an early summer vacation.
"We're just snakebit for some reason," Thornton said in the San Jose Mercury News. "But it is what it is, and now we have to win some games."
Blues: Home ice in the first round of the playoffs hasn't meant much in this series -- where the road team is now 3-1 -- or around the NHL in general, but St. Louis still has to feel confident trying to close out San Jose in a building where it won 30 times during the regular season, just one behind Detroit for the League lead. While McDonald and Berglund have carried the offensive load over the first four games, 13 different Blues have at least one point, and it was grinding winger B.J. Crombeen who had the only goal in the first 40 minutes Thursday, scoring his first career playoff goal 7:12 into the first period. McDonald and Berglund then teamed up for a power-play goal with eight minutes left that turned out to be necessary insurance after Thornton scored. Elliott finished with 24 saves.
"The goals are just around the net," McDonald said. "For me that's a focus point. With our line we have a lot of good puck movement and chemistry. Obviously in this type of hockey, in playoff hockey, you have to be around the net and the hard areas. That's what I'm trying to do, just get to the net."
Who's Hot: Thornton has factored into each of the last four Sharks goals, with a goal and three assists. Couture posts those same totals for the series. … McDonald has goals in three straight games and a series-leading seven points. Berglund has three goals and six points. Elliott has actually improved upon his regular-season numbers in both goals-against average (1.51 to 1.56) and save percentage (.944 to .940).
Injury Report: St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak, who started the first two games in this series, didn't dress for either game in San Jose and has been wearing a walking boot on his foot. Rookie Jake Allen remains the backup to Elliott while Halak is out.
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Last edited by h22prelude93: 04-21-2012 at 01:37 PM.
It's a home game, and they can wrap it up. I'm anxious about this game and ready to get it done. I hope the Blues can do it - Sharks are desperate for a win and to hang on, so I'm sure they'll bring it, and they've proved they can win at Scottrade. But I'm hoping the Blues want it more.
You guys pretty much have this in the bag. Hawks fan coming in peace, let me just say I respect your team, while other people may hate you with a burning hatred that rages more than the heat of a thousand suns.
Biggest test yet for the team. The final win is the toughest to get, home ice or not.
Agreed. I'm really hoping to see this team show a killer instinct rather than be content with the breathing room they earned themselves in San Jose (if that makes any sense). Game 4 was such a huge nailbiter and IMO the Blues were fortunate that their continual failures to clear the zone in the 2nd period and early 3rd didn't end up costing them, but that's over and done with. They're up 3-1 at the Scottrade with the Sharks under their collective boot. Time to finish the job! Let's go Blues!
I find it funny that hitch was quoted multiple times saying that the sharks have rallied from a 3-1 deficit on the NHL story page. Then, the next story talks about making franchise history by overcoming 3-1 for the first time.
I think the Blues will be even hungrier than SJ. We're at home ready to close out our first series in a decade. I think this team is gonna finish it. Sharks just haven't shown the can really keep up with us.