St. Louis 4 San Jose 3
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Andy McDonald scored one goal and set up another in the second period to help the St. Louis Blues regain home-ice advantage in their first-round series against San Jose by beating the Sharks 4-3 in Game 3 on Monday night.
Patrik Berglund, Jason Arnott and Alexander Steen added power-play goals, and Brian Elliott made 26 saves in place of injured Jaroslav Halak as the Blues won their second straight following a double-overtime loss in Game 1 to take a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 is Thursday in San Jose.
Brent Burns, Colin White and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks, who again struggled to find answers against St. Louis, losing for the sixth time in seven meetings this season. If San Jose doesn’t find a way to penetrate St. Louis soon, the Sharks could exit in the first round after making it to the Western Conference finals the past two seasons.
After going more than eight years between playoff victories, the second-seeded Blues have now put together back-to-back wins with the same formula that made them so successful in the regular season.
Elliott and Halak have been the backbone of a record-setting defence, and a balanced offensive attack takes advantage of whatever mistakes the opposition makes.
Five players had at least two points apiece with McDonald recording two assists to go with his goal, and defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo helping out on three goals.
For the second straight game, the Blues took control in the second period. McDonald got them off to the fast start when Berglund deflected Colaiacovo’s point shot off the post, and McDonald knocked the rebound into an open net just 1:01 in.
The Blues capitalized on an interference penalty by Douglas Murray midway through the period when McDonald threaded a cross-ice pass to Arnott, who beat Antti Niemi to give the stingy Blues a commanding two-goal lead.
The Sharks came up with a few good chances in the second but Elliott robbed his former college teammate at Wisconsin, Joe Pavelski, on one shot from the slot, and stopped everything else to keep it 3-1.
The frustration for San Jose became evident late in the period when Daniel Winnik took a boarding penalty against Colaiacovo, which proved crucial when Steen beat Niemi with a point shot on the power play in the opening minute of the third to make it 4-1.
Colin White scored with 3:02 remaining and Logan Couture added a goal with 18.5 seconds left for the Sharks, but it was far too late for a comeback.
The boisterous, towel-waving crowd was energized from the start after Murray flattened T.J. Oshie with a check just after the opening faceoff.
But there was little for the home crowd to cheer after that as the Blues made it difficult for the Sharks to come out of their own end and controlled much of the play.
Niemi started strong for San Jose, making a pair of tough saves against Oshie and David Perron after a turnover by Winnik but he couldn’t shut the Blues down on their first power play.
With Tommy Wingels off for high-sticking Alex Pietrangelo in the offensive zone, Berglund beat the defence to a puck that hit off the post and was sitting in the crease, knocking it in for his third goal of the series.
The Sharks answered on the power play a few minutes later when Kris Russell mishandled Joe Thornton’s dump-in with his glove, setting up Burns’ pretty backhanded goal that was his first career playoff tally.
Notes: The Blues have scored five of their nine goals this series on the power play. … F Chris Stewart returned to the lineup for St. Louis after being a healthy scratch in Game 2, taking the place of Matt D’Agostini. … The Sharks also made a lineup change, playing White in place of Jason Demers.