2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals - Game 2
#7 San Jose Sharks at #2 St. Louis Blues
4:30 PM (Pacific) - Scottrade Center - St. Louis, MO TV: CSN California HD | RADIO: KFOX 98.5/102.1 FM
The San Jose Sharks face the #2 seed St. Louis Blues in Game 2 in the best of seven Western Conference First Round Stanley Cup Playoff series in St. Louis on Saturday at 4:30pm (PDT). This is the 28th playoff series in franchise history for the Sharks (13-14) and the 4th playoff series meeting vs. the St. Louis Blues.
Previous Playoff Series vs. St. Louis (all Western Conference Quarterfinals)
2003-04: (#2) San Jose Sharks defeat (#7) St. Louis Blues, 4-1
2000-01: (#4) St. Louis Blues defeat (#5) San Jose Sharks, 4-3
1999-00: (#8) San Jose Sharks defeat (#1) St. Louis Blues, 4-3
The Sharks are coming off an exciting come from behind 3-2 victory in double overtime in Game 1 in St. Louis in Thursday. Martin Havlat scored twice for the Sharks, the second at 3:44 of the second overtime period and Antti Niemi was excellent with 40 saves in goal.
Rookie Andrew Desjardins forced overtime for the Sharks with 5:16 remaining in the third period in what turned out to be sixth longest game in San Jose Sharks history and only the fourth decided in the second overtime period. Ryane Clowe added two assists, including the primary assist on the overtime game winner.
Patrik Berglund scored his first two career playoff goals for the Blues and Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves in the loss.
The Sharks look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead before heading back to the Shark Tank on Monday night at 7 PM.
MATCH-UPS TO WATCH
Despite only scoring three goals in the regular season in four games against the Blues, the Sharks grabbed three scores in Game 1 in St. Louis. As often occurs in the NHL playoffs strong goaltending, special teams, and secondary scoring efforts are magnified during a seven game series.
Breaking it down through Game 1:
Goaltending: advantage SHARKS
San Jose – Antti Niemi was AWESOME for the Sharks making 40 saves in Game 1 in his 41st victory in his career in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Niemi was best when the Sharks needed him the most, making 14 saves in the first overtime period and making several game saving stops to set up the second overtime period heroics of Martin Havlat.
St. Louis – Jaroslav Halak was solid in goal in Game 1 for the Blues; however, he did let two pucks get through for San Jose scores. Halak got a piece of Andrew Desjardins goal to tie the game in the third period and was later beat by a wicked shot from Havlat from the top of the left circle on the blocker side. Halak also bobbled several shots by the Sharks from long distances which made the Sharks fire and then drive to the net looking for a fluky score.
Special Teams: advantage TIE
San Jose – The Sharks power play got them going offensively in Game 1 with Havlat’s deflection score on a Dan Boyle shot in the first period. For the most part, the Sharks were able to get some good looks from their point men on the power play and able to set up screens in front of the St. Louis net. Although the Blues scored on one of their power play chances, the Sharks penalty kill only gave up a few chances and made a big kill in the third period.
St. Louis – The Blues grabbed a 2-1 lead in the third period on a power play strike by Patrik Berglund. The Sharks penalty had been sharp up to that point. All-in-all, the Sharks penalty kill looked pretty solid in the other three chances, however, the Sharks need to be careful on shorthanded rushes and make sure they don’t end up as odd man rushes back into the San Jose end.
Overall, if the Sharks can stay even with the Blues on special teams play, the Sharks will be in good shape during this series.
Secondary Scoring: advantage SHARKS
San Jose – The Sharks fourth line of D2W (Desjardins, Winnik, and Wingels) created lots of energy and got the puck in deep most of the night which led to the Sharks game tying goal in the third period. None of the Sharks 10+ goal scorers found the back of the net in Game 1 – but it was Havlat, who scored seven goals in 39 games for San Jose with the two strikes in Game 1 for the Sharks. If the Sharks secondary lines continue to score, San Jose will be tough to beat in the playoffs.
St. Louis – Nineteen goal scorer Patrik Berglund scored the only two goals for the Blues in Game 1. Alex Steen had a few nice chances and Kevin Stattenkirk fired 11 shots on goal – but the rest of the Blues offense was unable to find the back of the net vs. Niemi.
Game 1 Winner… The Sharks have a 14-14 record all time in Game 1’s of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 8-7 record on the road during Game 1 after their 3-2 win on Thursday in St. Louis. In the previous 13 Game 1 Wins… the Sharks went on to win 9 of the 13 previous series (69.2%)
Game 2…San Jose is 11-16 all-time in Game 2’s and just 4-10 on the road.
Remember when…Martin Havlat’s first NHL playoff goal was an overtime strike for the Senators in 2002 with a series clincher vs. the Flyers… Havlat now has 21 playoff goals in 68 games played.
Double OT GWG’s… MartinHavlat joined Ray Whitney (at CGY in 1995) and Patrick Rissmiller (at NSH in 2007) as the only Sharks players to score a goal in double overtime.
2-for-4… With his third period goal vs. the Blues in Game 1, Andrew Desjardins now has two career playoff goals in just four games played.
Welcome to the playoffs… The Blues had three players make their Stanley Cup playoffs debuts vs. the Sharks in Game 1 (Pietrangelo, Reaves, and Shattenkirk).
Shoot the Puck… Kevin Shattenkirk fired 11 shots on goal in Game 1. He was 5th on the club during the regular season with 178 shots on goal.
OT Blues… St. Louis fell to 28-26 in OT during the playoffs in franchise history.
Head Coach...Ken Hitchcock elected to match his top line (Perron, Backes, and Oshie) vs. the Sharks top line (Marleau, Thornton, Pavelski) most of the night. Should be interesting to see if that continues in Game 2.
On the play of his line… “We (Desjardins and Winnik) complement each other well… we are all strong on puck, we all like to handle the puck… make plays, play physical… important to stay up and down and not east to west.”
On playing first playoff game… “I grew up watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs and always dreamed of playing as a little kid with your friends …. and to actually play in a playoff game was pretty cool.”
On his birthday assist… “I just really wanted the team to win…. all though it was a pretty cool birthday present getting the assist on the tying score with a great job by Desi to bury the puck. It was an awesome birthday.”
Thoughts on OT… “The whole team was pretty calm. Even when we were down 2-1 in third period… the veterans led the way and I just tried to put my head down and follow and do my best… it was a huge win.”
On Game 2…“We need to just focus on what we can control… continue to have a good start on the road is important… we want to play with the lead and go home to San Jose with two wins.”
The Sharks found a way to score at the Scottrade Center after going 7+ periods without finding the back of the net. San Jose did a lot of things well in Game 1: scored first, scored a power play goal, had fantastic goaltending, and had solid contributions from all four lines. All great things to build on as San Jose looks for a two game sweep in St. Louis. The Sharks do not necessarily need to win Game 2, and the pressure is certainly on the Blues, who most definitely do NOT want to come to HP Pavilion on Saturday in a 2-0 series hole. Look for the Sharks Top Guns to come alive offensively with the continued strong play by Antti Niemi and the Sharks will be in good shape (win or lose) after Game 2.
by Eric Lindquist, SJSHARKS.com
(San Jose leads best-of-seven series, 1-0)
TV: CSN-CA (HD), CNBC, TSN, RDSI, FS-MW (HD)
Last 10: San Jose 7-3-0; St. Louis 4-3-3
Season Series: St. Louis dominated, winning all four regular-season matchups and outscoring San Jose 11-3 in the process. The Blues didn't allow a goal in either game at Scottrade Center, with Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak each recording a shutout. Alex Pietrangelo led all scorers with 2 goals and 5 points.
Big Story:Martin Havlat's resurgence which started down the stretch continued into Game 1 of this series, and the Sharks drew first blood with a 3-2 win in the first double overtime game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. San Jose got the monkey off its back of not having beaten St. Louis all season, and now tries to take a commanding 2-0 lead back home to HP Pavilion.
On the Blues' side, coach Ken Hitchcock announced after Friday's optional skate he would come back with Jaroslav Halak as his starter. There was nothing wrong with Halak's performance on Thursday -- he stopped 31 of 33 shots before Havlat beat him 3:34 into the second extra period. But at the same time, with the NHL's top regular-season goalie in terms of goals-against average (1.56) and save percentage (.940) available in Brian Elliott, there was at least the option for Hitchcock to change things up.
Sharks: Regular season and playoffs can be two totally different animals, and San Jose proved that by scoring as many goals against St. Louis in Game 1 as it had managed in their four prior matchups. Havlat, whose season was marred by inconsistency and injury until he put together a hot stretch after returning to the lineup on March 15, opened the scoring on a power-play goal in the second period. But after the Blues struck for a pair in the third to take the lead, the biggest goal of the night came courtesy of a guy who only had four during the regular season. Andrew Desjardins converted a feed from Tommy Wingels with 5:16 remaining, sending the game into overtime where Havlat eventually beat Halak from the high slot for the winner.
"We can talk about the goal, but the 13-14 minutes that they played for us was very valuable," coach Todd McLellan said of the Desjardins-Wingels-Daniel Winnik line. "They played hard, played smart. Desi was really good in the faceoff circle. Tommy got some power-play time and played a really important role on that line. When you get those two young guys playing together with a veteran like Daniel Winnik, you have a fourth line you can trust or third line, whatever they might be."
Blues: Once again, St. Louis will aim for the franchise's first playoff victory since April 12, 2004, also against San Jose. That win came in Game 3 with the Blues already down 2-0 in the series, a hole they're not interested in facing as the series shifts to California. In the end, their Game 1 loss came largely due to their inability to solve Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, who stopped them on 40 of 42 shots, including all 14 in the first overtime. Patrik Berglund was the only one to celebrate beating Niemi, first on a redirection of a Kevin Shattenkirk shot 54 seconds into the third to pull San Jose even, then on a power play at 7:28 to temporarily put the Sharks in front.
"We'll be fine," Berglund said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We played some good hockey tonight. We still have a lot of confidence. We had a lot of chances to win this game. We just have to keep going at it. There's a lot of games to go."
Who's Hot: Havlat, who finished the regular season on a four-game points streak (1-4-5), now has 29 points in his last 29 playoff games. Ryane Clowe and Dan Boyle each chipped in a pair of assists in the Sharks' opening win. Niemi has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of eight starts dating back to March 26. … Berglund's goals were his first points in his fifth career playoff game for the Blues.
Injury Report: San Jose defenseman Colin White missed Game 1 with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day. Elliott, who had been nursing an upper-body injury, dressed as Halak's backup in the opener. St. Louis defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has been battling an illness that has kept him out of the last two games.
Stat Pack: Each team went 1-for-3 on the power play Thursday. During the regular-season series, the Blues had the advantage when up a man, going 5-for-19 while the Sharks were just 1-for-15 over four games. When they were swept by the Canucks in their last playoff appearance in 2009, the Blues were just 1-for-24 in the series.
Puck Drop: Just like San Jose cleared a mental hurdle in Game 1 by breaking through against the Central Division champs, St. Louis must now secure that critical first win in the series so the specter of another sweep isn't hanging over to the club as it heads to the Bay Area.
"There's not much to say," forward Alex Steen said in the Post-Dispatch after Thursday's defeat. "It is what it is right now. Game 1. It's a long series. We knew coming in that it was going to be a long series. It's two tough teams, intense teams, fun buildings, so it's going to be a fun series."