Blues defence fuels offence in Game 2 win over Sharks

Blues 4 Sharks 2

(Series tied at 1-1)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Defencemen Vince Dunn and Robert Bortuzzo scored second-period goals that helped the St. Louis Blues overcome another big game from San Jose’s Logan Couture with a 4-2 victory Monday night that tied the Western Conference final at one game apiece.

Dunn’s second goal of the post-season gave the Blues a 2-0 lead and Bortuzzo then added his first career playoff goal late in the period after Couture had tied the score. Jaden Schwartz and Oskar Sundqvist also scored and Jordan Binnington made 23 saves to send the Blues home for Game 3 on Wednesday night tied in the series.

Couture scored his goals in a span of 1:59, giving him an NHL-leading 13 this post-season but the Sharks couldn’t get anything else and lost their third straight Game 2 after winning the series opener. Martin Jones made 21 saves.

Couture tried to take over the game for the sluggish Sharks after they fell behind 2-0 in the second period on Dunn’s point shot that beat Jones through a screen. The Blues were in position to add onto that lead after a questionable interference call against Marcus Sorensen when Couture single-handedly turned things around.

He took the puck from Alex Pietrangelo at the blue line and skated in on Binnington for the short-handed goal just 16 seconds into St. Louis’ man advantage, waking up the crowd.

Couture struck again shortly after the penalty was killed, taking a stretch pass from Timo Meier and firing a shot between the pads for the equalizer, giving him 100 career post-season points.

The Blues then answered late in the period with a pretty goal from an unlikely source. Bortuzzo passed the puck from the point to Tyler Bozak and skated in behind Joe Thornton. He then took a pass from Joel Edmundson and beat Jones with a backhander into the top corner for his first career playoff goal.

Bortuzzo added a big blocked shot in the third when Kevin Labanc got a pass in the slot with time to shoot. The Blues then killed off a power play later in the period before getting the insurance goal with 3:08 remaining when Alexander Steen fed Sundqvist on a rush for the goal that made it 4-2.

The Sharks were looking to avoid their pattern from the first two rounds when they followed up convincing Game 1 wins with losses at home in the next contest.

But the Blues were the more desperate team from the start and got the early lead when Schwartz finished off a give-and-go with Vladimir Tarasenko with a shot into the corner of the net from the faceoff circle just 2:34 into the game.

St. Louis had chances to add onto that lead but Jones made a point-blank stop against Sundqvist and then was helped out when Colton Parayko’s shot went off the post. The game remained 1-0 after the first because St. Louis couldn’t convert on two power-play chances and San Jose came up empty on its chance with the man advantage.

NOTES: Couture is the fourth player this decade with 100 playoff points, trailing only Sidney Crosby (123), Patrick Kane (109) and Evgeni Malkin (106). … Schwartz has nine goals in the playoffs after scoring just 11 in the regular season.

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