St. Louis Blues vs San Jose Sharks
Troy Brouwer and Kyle Brodziak scored two goals each and goaltender Jake Allen stopped 31 shots as St. Louis defeated San Jose 6-3 in Game 4 of their Western Conference Finals at San Jose’s SAP Center. The best-of-seven series is tied 2-2.
“This is a big step,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said following the contest. “This is catching our game again and we came here to win a hockey game, we did it, we got home ice (advantage) back again. Now, we gotta bring our emotional level up. We’re playing in front of our fans (in Game 5). They’re going to be right through the roof for us and our players are going to bring another emotional level that hopefully they can play at because it’s when we play our best.”
Brouwer began the scoring 6:14 into the first period on the power play. The play originated at the right point with Alex Pietrangelo sending a pass to Paul Stastny, who was along the half-wall. Stastny moved it down to the corner to Robby Fabbri and the young winger sent a touch pass into the slot which Brouwer one-timed between the pads of San Jose goaltender Martin Jones giving the Blues a 1-0 lead. It was the first goal for St. Louis in that last 156:59 of the series.
Jori Lehtera increased the Blues’ lead to 2-0 at the 10:11 mark of the opening period. After a strong forechecking effort by the Blues forced a Sharks turnover, the puck played pinball. Lehtera put a shot on Jones from the slot that the netminder stopped. The rebound went to back to Lehtera and he passed it to Fabbri at the left of the crease, his shot was stopped by Jones with the rebound landing on Lehtera’s stick and the native of Finland put it into the goal.
St. Louis continued its improved play over Games 2 and 3 in the second period.
Brodziak scored his first of the game with his team killing a penalty at 6:14 of the middle frame. Jaden Schwartz rushed the puck out of the Blues’ zone and into the Sharks’ end on a two-on-one with Brodziak. Schwartz held the puck until he reached the top of the left faceoff circle then sent a saucer pass onto Brodziak’s stick and centerman put a shot over Jones’ shoulder into the far side of the net and St. Louis had a 3-0 lead.
Brodziak picked up his second lamplighter of the night 4:02 after scoring his first goal. The Blues continued to win puck battles on the boards in the San Jose end of the ice. Magnus Paajarvi took advantage of a Sharks turnover in the right faceoff circle and sent the puck toward the Sharks’ net. The bouncing puck was picked up Dimitrij Jaskin and he let go a quick wrist shot but Jones stopped it. Jaskin regained control of the puck off the rebound, skated behind the net and fed a backhand pass out to Brodziak, who was stationed at the hash marks inside the left faceoff circle. He sent a wrist shot over Martin’s glove hand and the score was 4-0 in favor of the St. Louis.
It appeared the Blues would cruise to victory after two periods without much fight from the Sharks but San Jose showed some life in the third period.
Joe Pavelski got San Jose on the scoreboard 1:05 into the third period with his 10th goal of the playoffs. Paul Martin held the puck at the left point, walked it toward the middle of the blue line then gave a short pass to Joe Thornton. Thornton skated the disc into the bottom of the left faceoff circle before spotting Pavelski unattended at the right post. Thornton sent a tape-to-take pass to Pavelski, who only needed to redirect it into the net making it a 4-1 game.
Two minutes and fifty seconds later, Brouwer answered the Pavelski goal while on the power play, giving St. Louis a 5-1 lead when he deflected an Alexander Steen shot from the point past Jones. Stastny, who moved the puck to Steen, garnered the secondary assist.
Chris Tierney cut the Blues’ lead to 5-2 at the 15:39 mark of the final period. After Allen stopped a Sharks shot, he swept the rebound to the left of his crease which went directly to Tierney. The Sharks forward put the puck back at Allen which hit the goaltender’s leg before landing in the back of the net.
Alex Pietrangelo scored the final goal for the Blues with 4:21 to play in the last period when he won a battle for the puck and flipped it out of the zone. It sailed through the air and landed in the Sharks’ zone then rolled into the net giving St. Louis a 6-2 lead.
San Jose’s Melker Karlsson scored the final goal of the game 49 seconds after Pietrangelo’s goal. The Sharks’ forwards worked the puck from behind the Blues’ net and moved it out to Roman Polak at the right point. He passed across the blue line to his partner who sent the puck down low behind the net to Tierney. Tierney moved it to the front of the net where it hit Karlsson’s skate before a St. Louis defenseman, in an attempt to clear the puck out of the crease, inadvertently swept it behind Allen to cut the Sharks’ lead in half to 6-3.
“I thought we went back to our roots, what made us successful throughout the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs,” Brouwer said.
The clubs will pack up and move to St. Louis for Game 5 which will be played at the Scottrade Center on Monday, May 23rd at 8:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Stat of the Night:
Per Elias Sports Bureau, St. Louis scored six-plus goals in three-plus games of a playoff year for the second time in team history (four such games in 1986).
With St. Louis’ first goal in Game 4, San Jose goaltender Martin Jones saw his shutout streak end at 153:57, giving up his first goal since the second period of Game 1.
With the Game 4 win, St. Louis improved to 11-3-0 in their last 14 road games dating back to March 19 (regular season and playoffs).
The Blues win in Game 4 was their 6th road win of the 2016 playoffs, extending their franchise record for road wins in a playoff year.
Troy Brouwer posted his second multi-goal playoff game and first since Game 1 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final versus Philadelphia.
Troy Brouwer has 7 goals in the 2016 playoffs (18 games), tying the total from his first 78 career playoff games.
Kyle Brodziak scored his first shorthanded goal and game-winning goal in the postseason to register his first career multi-goal playoff game.
Joe Pavelski’s 10 goals of the 2016 playoffs are the most in San Jose Sharks playoff history.
Sunday’s Stanley Cup Schedule:
Game 5 – Eastern Conference Finals – Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins (8:00 pm ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) The best-of-seven series is tied 2-2.
Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.