The San Jose Sharks fell to the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in a Western Conference Final rematch at Scottrade Center on Thursday night.
The last time these two teams faced each other, San Jose eliminated St. Louis from the playoffs with a decisive 5-2 victory.
The Sharks returned with mostly the same lineup.
Meanwhile, the Blues suffered four departures of David Backes, Troy Brouwer, Steve Ott and Brian Elliott. As a result, Alex Pietrangelo became the new St. Louis captain.
“It’s definitely a little bit of a different team,” Joe Pavelski told Kevin Kurz. “They’ve lost some people that have helped create the identity they have. I don’t think we get too much of a different game, though. They play hard and we expect that fast, checking game that they like to play.”
Logan Couture beat Blues goalie Jake Allen five-hole after picking up a pass from Joonas Donskoi. The Sharks took a 1-0 lead at 6:16 of the first period.
The Blues didn’t sit back just yet. Jaden Schwartz jumped on a loose puck in the slot and quickly released a wrist shot that beat Sharks goalie Martin Jones on the stick side, tying the game 1-1 midway though the first.
Shots were 7-4 in favor of the Sharks, but the game was knotted 1-1 after 20 minutes.
The Blues grabbed a 2-1 lead at 8:45 of the second period. Schwartz beat Jones with a long wrist shot through traffic for his second goal of the game and fifth of the year. However, their lead didn’t last long.
Just nine seconds later, Kevin Labanc scored his first NHL goal. He picked up a bouncing puck and then turned around to fire a shot under Allen’s right pad to tie the game 2-2.
The Blues benefited from a late power play. Sharks fans across the country vented their frustration on social media at what appeared to be a questionable call. Mikkel Boedker was called for interference late in the second.
With Boedker in the box for inteference, David Perron took a pass from Paul Statsny and unleashed a wrist shot that deflected into the net off the leg of Sharks defenseman Justin Braun for a power-play goal. Perron’s fifth goal of the year allowed the Blues to retake the lead.
Despite San Jose having a 18-13 edge in shots, St. Louis led 3-2 after 40 minutes.
Vlasic’s decision to intentionally hold Perron meant that the Sharks started the third period on the penalty kill.
The game was interesting, but the Sharks were unable to notch the game-tying goal. The Blues ended up holding onto the 3-2 lead for the win. Allen finished with 29 saves for St. Louis.
Jones made 22 saves in a losing effort for San Jose.
The Sharks finish off their season-long six-game road trip this Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes. Game time is set for 6:00 p.m. MST on FSAZ, CSCA.