Full of momentum and confidence following their Game 1 win Sunday over the San Jose Sharks, the St. Louis Blues displayed neither of those qualities two days later in Game 2.
Sharks defenseman Brent Burns scored two power-play goals and goalie Martin Jones delivered 26 saves for a shutout Tuesday in San Jose’s 4-0 victory over the Blues that evened the Western Conference series at one game apiece.
San Jose’s Dainius Zubrus added an empty-net goal with 18.4 seconds remaining, though many in the sellout crowd of 19,596 were already on their way out of the building. It was the Blues’ first time being shut out at home since the Sharks did it to them on April 14, 2001 with a 1-0 victory.
“They’re a frustrating team to play against,” Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “They check you hard, they’re very disciplined and their structure can frustrate you. I think that’s what we do well, too, so we have to make sure that we get on the other side of that.”
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What went wrong for the Blues? Just about everything.
They fell behind early on a goal by Tommy Wingels, allowed the Sharks to score twice on five power plays and went 0-for-5 on the power play themselves. That included a mostly listless four-minute power play early in the third period after San Jose’s Patrick Marleau was called for high sticking when the score was still 2-0.
“We were just kind of looking to score three goals in four minutes rather than worrying about just executing and getting back on the right side of things,” Shattenkirk said. “I think that’s a lesson to be learned for a four-minute power play, or a two-minute power play.”
The Sharks felt they had played well despite losing 2-1 in Game 1 and seemed to turn up their game even higher in this one.
“It was big for the power play, but I thought our penalty kill was even bigger,” Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. “(It) created even more momentum for us and special teams were the difference tonight.”
The series now shifts to San Jose, where the Sharks are 5-1 and have won five straight. The Blues’ postseason struggles at home continued as they fell to 4-5 at Scottrade Center. The Blues, now 1-1 after two games in each of their first three playoff series, are 5-2 on the road and have won three straight away from home.
“It was pretty much what we expected,” Blues forward Alexander Steen said. “They had the little details in their game tonight that we didn’t and unfortunately there was a little bit of frustration that crept in. We took a few penalties and it set us back a little bit.”
It was a rough first period by the Blues after they surrendered an early goal to fourth-liner Wingels just 2:07 into the game. Elliott got a piece of the shot by Wingels, but not enough of it as the puck continued on into the net for the second goal of the playoffs by the Sharks forward.
The Blues had trouble clearing the puck out of the zone during the first period and Elliott was forced to make several difficult saves.
The Sharks ended their 0-for-4 power-play slump by cashing in at the 7:04 mark of the second period after Steen’s stick broke. San Jose’s Joe Pavelski set the puck up on a tee at the edge of the left circle for Burns, who beat Elliott with a quick one-timer. Burns added another power-play goal in the third period, giving him six goals and 18 points in 14 playoff contests.
“We made two mistakes,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “There was no communication on the exit to get the stick, and then we pressured on the half wall on the point, outside the dots instead of buying time to allow us. We were in a 5-on-3 situation, we should have stayed passive. We went aggressive on it and should have stayed.”
San Jose coach Peter DeBoer marvels at Burns’ ability to get shots off from practically anywhere. He had 27 goals during the regular season.
“Wow, best I’ve ever seen,” DeBoer said. “I think just how he can get it off from every angle, how he can get it to the net off balance, in bad spots. He finds a way to get it there. If it’s in the right spot, it’s going in. That’s a great weapon for us.”
Logan Couture picked up two assists Tuesday and has nine points in the last six games.
The Blues handed the Sharks another power play when Steve Ott checked Pavelski from behind. It took a big save by Elliott on Couture to keep things at 2-0.
Troy Brouwer nearly cut the deficit in half headed to the third period, but his shot beat Sharks goalie Martin Jones with a minute left in the second period only to clang off the far post. Brouwer sent another shot off the post with just over five minutes remaining in the game.
Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who was present for the birth of his first child earlier Tuesday with wife Yana, had a team-high six shots but like his teammates could not get anything past Jones.
Blues forward Patrik Berglund left the game briefly during the second period after he appeared to catch his hip or leg on a slightly opened bench door. Berglund returned before the second period ended.
Steen limped off the ice following a collision with San Jose’s Dainius Zubrus with two minutes remaining in the first period, but returned at the start of the second period.