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Blues beat down Sharks, stand at brink of Stanley Cup Finals

A Game 5 meltdown only got worse and worse for the San Jose Sharks, who fell 5-0 to the St. Louis Blues Sunday afternoon.

San Jose faces elimination for the fifth time this postseason, as St. Louis leads the Western Conference Finals 3-2.

This story has been updated with quotes and additional material from the Sharks dressing room at SAP Center.

The Blues poured on the offense, outshooting the Sharks 39-21, while the Sharks racked up 36 penalty minutes. Logan Couture said:

“You can’t win or come back when you’re in the box the whole period. [The game] got away from us at the end, would’ve really like us to control our emotions and at least give ourselves a chance.”

It did not help that the San Jose bench was shortened in the third period. Both Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl did not play in the final period. Karlsson had been questionable to even play, as he seemed to have agitated. Brenden Dillon said:

“You don’t want to make excuses, but some pretty key guys that are going down. Some offensive guys that when you are playing from behind like that, it’s tough to push the pace.”

After taking a high hit, Joe Pavelski went to the Sharks dressing room and did not return to the game. Joonas Donskoi missed most of the third period after taking a puck to the face.

However, San Jose did have the jump in the first period, as Evander Kane rang a shot off the goal post just 10 seconds into the game.

While the Sharks outshot the Blues 5-1 through the first five minute of the game, a costly defensive zone turnover allowed the Blues to open the scoring. Erik Karlsson’s pass from behind the net bounced off the boards to Oskar Sundqvist, who one timed a slap shot past Martin Jones.

Offensive pressure by the San Jose fourth line forced a delay of game puck over glass penalty with 4:42 left in the first period, but the Sharks only managed two shots on goal through the power play. San Jose lead in shots on goal 11-4 in the first period, but could not build any momentum.

Two minutes into the second period, Kane hit another post after redirecting Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s shot. The missed chance haunted the Sharks again, when the Blues took a 2-0 lead just 40 seconds later. Vladimir Tarasenko fired off a weak slap shot, but Jones poked the rebound right onto the stick of Jaden Schwartz, who easily scored. Couture said:

“Turned too many pucks over, we played in our end too much. We had opportunities … when their [defensemen] were pinching and we didn’t get it out. And the next thing you know, they’re extending shifts over each other and our guys are tired.”

With 13:00 left in the second period, Burns tripped Tarasenko on a breakaway chance. Tarasenko was awarded a penalty shot, which he converted by sniping top corner on Jones for a 3-0 lead. In a dominant second period, St. Louis fired 20 shots on goal while San Jose only put on 6. Head coach Pete DeBoer said:

“I thought they took over in the second period, and then [Pavelski] got hit high, we lost our composure there in the third. Not our finest moment, but I understand where that emotion’s coming from, with what he’s been through.”

Barclay Goodrow and Micheal Haley both took penalties just two minutes into the third period, giving St. Louis a 5-on-3 power play. Schwartz arced a backhand shot over Jones just 20 seconds into the power play for a 4-0 lead.

The meltdown only continued as the period went on. After Haley received a minor penalty and a 10 minute misconduct, Timo Meier took a tripping penalty while on the penalty kill. The Sharks killed off the penalties, including 40 seconds of 5-on-3, but the Blues still had full control of the game.

With four minutes left in the game, Schwartz one-timed Tarasenko’s pass to complete the hat trick and the 5-0 win. The Sharks managed just four shots in the third period. DeBoer said:

“We’ve been here before and had to go in and win on the road in Vegas in order to get to a Game 7. You’re never comfortable when your back’s against the wall like that, but we have been here before and found a way, and I’m confident we can do that again.”

Up next

Game 6 will be played at Enterprise Center in St. Louis Tuesday at 5 p.m.

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