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Game Inside the Game: WCQF Game 3 - Blues @ Sharks - Recap

Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 5:45 PM / News
By Mike Benton  - Staff Writer
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Game Inside the Game: WCQF Game 3 - Blues @ Sharks - Recap


By any means necessary, the San Jose Sharks had to get the top guns locked, loaded and ready to fire in game three.

Monday night was finally their arrival on the scoresheet.

A 4-3 Sharks loss to the St. Louis Blues at HP Pavilion at San Jose, resulting in a 2-1 series deficit, ultimately points to special teams as the difference as the Blues cashed in on their first three power play chances. But the Sharks top gunslingers finally generated and produced when Joe Thornton led the way with a three assist night, after coming up empty handed in the first two games of the series.

Maybe to no one’s surprise, Thornton’s linemates – including Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau – enjoyed more offensive output and several “close shaves” early in the game by facing a change in line matchups. The Sharks, with privilege of holding home ice advantage, were allowed to deploy the last change before each faceoff.

Thus, no more constant occurrences of the Thornton-Pavelski-Marleau trio against the St. Louis top line of David Perron, David Backes and T.J. Oshie.

THE MATCHUP

SHARKS: The Sharks began their game with the top line of Thornton, Marleau and Pavelski, who totaled three assists and a +3 rating – granted that trio of assists came from Thornton himself. Following Thornton’s magical lob over the Blues defense to Brent Burns for the game tying goal in the first period, they produced a key scoring chance in the second period that nearly tied the game after the Blues struck for a key goal in the first 61 seconds of the period.

With 16:44 to play in the middle frame, Marleau found Pavelski on a blast at the right circle that Blues goaltender Brian Elliott – who sustained the Blues with 26 saves – stopped with no rebound produced. The Sharks top line generated the chance with against the Blues third line of Vladimir Sobotka, Jason Arnott and Chris Stewart.



Pavelski began the play with a faceoff win and Thornton outmuscled defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk for the loose puck. Thornton then slid the puck to Marleau, stationed at the right goal line. His quick re-direction found Pavelski wide open at the right circle, but Elliott made the save on Pavelski’s lightning quick attempt.

Matched up against center Patrik Berglund and wingers Alexander Steen and Andy McDonald, the Thornton trio found another threatening chance at the 5:44 mark in the second period when Thornton dominated with puck control behind the Blues net. With Marleau and Pavelski waiting in front of the net and unavailable for a pass, Thornton found a wide open wraparound attempt but Elliott stopped the bid with his left pad.

They also combined for 18 faceoff wins, exploiting Berglund for a 5-of-14 effort in the faceoff circle.

BLUES: Oshie, Perron and Backes – who combined for a goal, assist and seven shots on goal in the game two victory, were largely a non factor as the Blues found most of their pay dirt on special teams, propelled by two power play assists from Andy McDonald.

Their best chance with their top line came with 6:12 to play in the first period. Oshie and Perron nearly connected for the game’s first goal after sniffing out a Sharks turnover, deep in the offensive zone. St. Louis went to work into the corners and Oshie stole a pass at the left circle and was foiled on Antti Niemi’s stop. David Perron then snuck around traffic at the goal mouth for the rebound, but Niemi stood in the way with a left pad save.



The line was then nearly exploited in the first shift of the second period, when Logan Couture – who began the game on a line with Ryane Clowe and Martin Havlat – took a threaded pass from Brent Burns at the neutral zone, who found Couture on a feed through Backes and Oshie. Couture’s speed generated a wrist shot off the rush from the left circle, but Elliott managed to get his glove on the shot.

STRENGTHS

SHARKS: With the Sharks able to gain breathing room by mixing up line matchups, Thornton was able to generate scoring chances down low and Pavelski found two chances to finish – one that also rang off the post. Marleau’s playmaking ability contributed to the eight shots that the line combined for in the game.

BLUES: A battle against the Blues means eventually facing the grinding pressure that Backes, Oshie and Perron provide. They were kept off the scoresheet all night but still generated scoring chances off their trademark forechecking pressure and relentless pursuit to the front of the net for rebounds.

ADVANTAGE: Sharks. In a losing cause, the Sharks were able to mix up the matchups and free up Thornton – entering the game ranking sixth among active NHL players in playoff assists – for a three assist effort in game three after he was stifled in a scoreless output for the first two games in St. Louis. Key saves by Elliott in the first and second period prevented the Thornton-Pavelski-Marleau trio from enjoying a more resounding evening offensively on the scoresheet.

HEAD TO HEAD

SHARKS’ NO. 1 LINE: 0 G, 3 A, 8 SOG, 18 FW, +3

BLUES’ NO. 1 LINE: 0 G, 0 A, 6 SOG, 11 FW, -3

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 82 41 38 23 79
J. Thornton 82 11 65 20 76
P. Marleau 82 33 37 0 70
L. Couture 65 23 31 21 54
B. Burns 69 22 26 26 48
T. Wingels 77 16 22 11 38
D. Boyle 75 12 24 -8 36
J. Demers 75 5 29 14 34
T. Hertl 37 15 10 11 25
M. Nieto 66 10 14 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Stalock 12 5 2 .932 1.87
A. Niemi 39 17 7 .913 2.39
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