The San Jose Sharks’ Game 2 curse continued Monday night, as the St. Louis Blues tied the series with a 4-2 win.
A two-goal effort by Logan Couture gave the Sharks hope after late in the second period, but San Jose never held the lead in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. The Sharks are now 0-3 in Game 2s in the 2019 Playoffs.
Timo Meier was the only other Shark to get on the scoresheet, with an assist on Couture’s second goal. Head coach Pete DeBoer said:
“It’s tough to win this time of year if you don’t have everybody going. And they got contributions from everybody, like we did the first night. ”
While the Sharks frustrated the Blues’ first line in 6-3 Game 1 win, it was that first line that opened the scoring. Just 2:30 into the first period, Jaden Schwartz stayed hot by scoring his team-leading ninth goal of the playoffs. After slipping away from the Sharks defense, Schwartz received Vladimir Tarasenko’s pass while alone in the slot, and sent a wrist shot top corner on Martin Jones.
“You’ve got a guy in the d-zone, take him. They exploited us in that area, we were running around, we were sloppy, we weren’t hard enough in our d-zone.”
The Sharks and Blues exchanged early power play opportunities, though both teams only got one shot on goal during the man advantage.
Outshooting the St. Louis 9-6 through the first period, San Jose also locked down defensively. The Blues were held to just one shot on goal during the final 12:31 of the first period, including holding a Blues power play to zero shots.
Just under five minutes into the period, a shot from the point by Blues defenseman Vince Dunn made it past Jones, putting the Blues up 2-0.
It only took two minutes for the Sharks to turn the game around. The comeback started when the struggling Blues power play suffered another setback. Just 13 seconds into a penalty on the Sharks, Couture disrupted Alex Pietrangelo’s pass and beat him in a race to the Blues net. Couture slipped a backhander under Binnington’s pad to cut the St. Louis lead to 2-1.
Two minutes later, Couture tied it up. Timo Meier’s stretch pass allowed another rush by the playoff’s goal leader. Couture fired a shot past Binnington to tie the game at 2-2. The goal with 13:06 left in the second period earned Couture his 100th career playoff point.
But there was still half a hockey game to be played, and the Blues regained the momentum. Couture said:
“Even scoring those two goals, we still didn’t show like we had the energy to compete. Just two goals, got us tied in a game where we probably didn’t deserve to be tied.”
The Blues started pressuring, as Jones was forced to make a save on a 2-on-1 chance for St. Louis. In the final five minutes of the second period, Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo got in close and scored on a backhand shot for the 3-2 lead.
The Blues momentum carried into the third period, as they outshot the Sharks 5-0 through the first nine minutes. Labanc said:
“We just kind of let off the gas pedal, gave them a little too much room to make plays and they just kept sticking around.
After stumbling through a power play halfway through the period, Joe Thornton committed a tripping penalty. The St. Louis power play was held off again, but any momentum San Jose had hoped to gain was stifled. Couture said:
“In my opinion, that wasn’t anywhere near what we were capable of. I don’t think we’ve played up to our capabilities in a while now, we did just enough to beat the avalanche, but we haven’t played our best hockey since that Vegas series. It’s discouraging, it’s frustrating. We’re going to need everyone here if we want to beat these guys.”
The dagger came with 3:08 left in the third period, the Oskar Sundqvist one-timed Alexander Steen’s centering pass over Jones for the 4-2 win.
Games 3 and 4 will be played in St. Louis, Wednesday and Friday at 5 p.m.