With the series tied 2-2, the San Jose Sharks fell behind the Blues early but with dogged determination, that changed in the second period as the Sharks scored four unanswered goals to defeat the Blues in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.
San Jose Sharks vs St. Louis Blues
Captain Joe Pavelski scored two goals and an assist, Joel Ward scored twice, and Joe Thornton assisted on three goals leading San Jose to a 6-3 win over St. Louis. The Sharks lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and are one win away from making their first-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
“We’re reminding them we’re not there, yet,” San Jose coach Pete DeBoer said about his team being on the cusp of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Final. “There’s a lot of heavy lifting left. We know the team on the other side (St. Louis) and you know they’re not going away. We’ve been close before and let teams off the mat. It’s a great opportunity for us but there’s a lot of work left to do here before we can start thinking about that.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead 3:51 into the opening period. Thornton won a faceoff in the left circle inside the Blues’ zone. Pavelski chased the puck and gained control of it at the right side of the blue line. He passed it to Vlasic, who was on the left side of the line and the defenseman reeled off a slap shot that eluded the glove of St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen. It was the first goal of the playoffs for Vlasic.
Jaden Schwartz tied the contest at 1-1, with his first goal in 14 games, at the 7:04 mark of the first period when he pounced on the rebound of a Patrik Berglund shot and put the puck over the blocker of Sharks goaltender Martin Jones. Blues captain David Backes initiated the play with a shot that was stopped by Jones, which Berglund put back at the net. For his efforts, Backes was credited with an assist on the play.
Troy Brouwer put the Blues ahead 2-1 at 15:08 of the period. Alexander Steen carried the puck into the Sharks’ end of the ice along the left wing, he passed it to Paul Stastny in the middle of the zone, who let go a wrist shot that was stopped by Jones. The rebound went high into the air toward the faceoff circle to Jones’ right. Brouwer timed it perfectly and batted the puck out of the air and into the net for his eighth goal of the playoffs.
Apparently, batting pucks out of the air for goals are, in today’s vernacular, a thing, as Joel Ward was next to do it tying the game 2-2 at 4:37 of the second period. With the Sharks on the power play, Vlasic accepted a pass from at the left point, he skated in and released a wrist shot that hit the post. The rebound popped into the air and Ward, standing in the crease, batted the puck behind Allen to pull the Sharks even with the Blues.
Robby Fabbri gave the Blues a 3-2 lead with a power play goal at 11:58 of the second period. He started the play by winning a puck battle on the left wing halfway along the boards in the Sharks zone. He skated back toward the middle of the blue line then passed to his right to Alex Pietrangelo, who moved into the faceoff circle before sending a pass across the ice to Colton Parayko. Parayko moved the puck back to Fabbri in the middle of the zone, fifteen feet inside the blue line, Fabbri slammed a blistering slap shot that went through Jones’ five-hole for the goal.
After the Fabbri goal, the tide changed to the tune of four consecutive goals scored by San Jose.
Pavelski began the onslaught with a power play strike with 1:27 to play in the second period. Logan Couture won the puck from two Blues defenders along the boards in the right wing corner. He passed the disc behind the net to Thornton, who carried the puck to the side of Jones’ crease and found Pavelski in the high slot. Pavelski one-timed Thornton’s pass high over Allen’s glove and into the back of the net tying the score at 3-3.
Pavelski would find the back of the twine again just 16 seconds into the third period putting the Sharks ahead 4-3. Tomas Hertl won a race to the puck into the right wing corner in the St. Louis zone. He passed it back to Brent Burns at the left point, who sent a slap shot that appeared to be going wide of the goal but Pavelski reached out with his stick and redirected the shot past Allen for his League-leading 12th goal of the playoffs.
With Jones pulled for the extra skater, Chris Tierney took advantage of Thornton out-working two Blues defenders to the puck along the left wing boards gaining possession of it and putting it down low behind the St. Louis net to Tierney. Tierney beat a St. Louis defensemen to the right post and wrapped the puck into the net for an empty-net goal giving San Jose a 5-3 lead with 54 seconds remaining in the third period.
Ward scored his second of the night, putting the Sharks ahead by a 6-3 score after he gathered a bouncing puck at center ice and shooting it down the ice into the empty net with 33 seconds to play in the game.
Game 6 will be played at San Jose’s SAP Center on Wednesday, May 25th at 8:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Stat of the Night:
When teams are tied 2-2 in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series, the winner of Game 5 holds an all-time series record of 192-53 (78.3%).
Per Elias Sports Bureau, the San Jose Sharks matched a franchise record with their 5th road win of the postseason (also 2004).
San Jose set a franchise record with their 11th win of the postseason to move within 1 win of their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Joe Pavelski registered his 21st point of the 2016 playoffs in Game 5. He leads all NHL postseason scorers.
Joe Pavelski set a San Jose Sharks record with his 4th game-winning goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With his 3 assists in Game 5, Joe Thornton became the 3rd active player to record 90 career playoff assists (Jagr with 123; Hossa with 97).
Robby Fabbri leads all rookies with 4 goals, 11 assists, 15 points this postseason. The only St. Louis Blues rookie with more points in a playoff year is Joe Mullen, 7 goals, 11 assists, 18 points in 1982.
St. Louis Blues forward Troy Brouwer scored his 8th goal of the 2016 playoffs (19 games played). He had 7 goals in his previous 78 career playoff games.
The St. Louis Blues have lost four of their last five home playoff contests.
Tuesday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule:
Game 6 – Eastern Conference Finals – Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning (8:00 pm ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) Tampa Bay leads the best-of-seven series 3-2.
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.