Blues eliminate Sharks with 3-1 win
Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 10:15 PM
Louie Korac - NHL.com CorrespondentST. LOUIS --
It wasn't the St. Louis' Blues' skill players that helped eliminate the San Jose Sharks
Chalk one up for the grizzly, old veterans. Check one off for the grind line.
Just when it looked like the Sharks were going to bite back and get back into the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Blues struck like a bolt of lightning.
Twice, as a matter of fact.
's goal got it started, and David Perron
's goal 45 seconds later in the third period fueled the Blues' come-from-behind effort that eliminated the Sharks with a 3-1 win Saturday night at Scottrade Center, winning the best-of-seven series 4-1.
Langenbrunner's 34th career goal, with help from former Sharks forward Scott Nichol
that helped get a raucous roar from the 19,490 in attendance thirsting for the franchise's first playoff series win since 2002, and the feeling filtered through the rest of the Blues.
It helped the second-seeded Blues advance to the Western Conference Semifinals against a team yet determined.
"The momentum shifted in a matter of three minutes," Nichol said. "We always harped to put pucks on net. Our line was going all night. We were all around it all night long. It was just a matter of time. It was just a huge goal."
came up with his third win of the series, stopping 26 shots. Standing 200 feet away, he got an appreciation for the guys that aren't asked to score big goals.
"Who better to do it than those guys, because they were battling all night," said Elliott, who improved to 3-0 in the series after stepping in for an injured Jaroslav Halak
. "Even last game they were going, going, going. They're veterans and they pulled through for us tonight."
The Blues, the second seed in the West, looked dead in the water for much of the game, as the Sharks led the game on Joe Thornton
's late second-period goal. However, St. Louis found some magic created once again by its fourth line.
Langenbrunner's 34th career playoff goal tied the game 1-1 at 11:16 of the third period when he drove the net and popped home Nichol's initial shot, a shot Sharks goalie Antti Niemi
should have corralled.
"It was just a bad rebound ... it was a tip-in and I just tried to get the pad up," Niemi said. "I got the pad up but it was tough to get it."
"Just keep on pushing," Langenbrunner said. "Funnel the puck to the net and go there. In playoff games, it's the only way you're going to score.
"They were playing extremely well defensively. They were really making it hard around the net and they did a very good job of sticking with it there in the third."
Forty-five seconds later, Perron put the Blues ahead when he was able to deflect Alex Pietrangelo
's point shot past Niemi, who was screened by Patrik Berglund
on the play. Niemi stopped 24 shots.
"I think we lost the draw, [T.J. Oshie
] jumped in from the inside and kind of got it back," Perron said. "I took it from him when he lost it, and I was able to make a play in the middle, got it to Petro and I think he shot that one wide on purpose so I could get a stick on it. I did and it ended up going in. That's a real exciting feeling."
Thornton's second of the series opened the scoring with 39 seconds left in the second period after the Blues had a chance to clear a puck out of the zone, but Perron was not able to get the puck out after it was whipped around the boards.
fed Thornton in the slot and he slipped a shot past Elliott, as San Jose outshot the Blues 13-8 in the period, but the Sharks were eliminated in the first round for the first time since 2009.
"It (stinks)," Thornton said. "We had a good group of guys and you want to keep playing. This is the best time of year. Hats off to the Blues, they played great. But it’s a terrible feeling right now.
"It was a tight-checking series and they're the best team at it."
Sharks coach Todd McLellan credited the Blues for holding his team to 11 goals in nine games against the Blues this season.
"A lot of this was St. Louis," McLellan said. "They gave up 165 goals [in the regular season]. In the last four years, the only team close to that was Vancouver with 185. They are stifling. They are just defensively stifling.
"When you only have four forwards on the scoresheet, odds are you're not winning."
McDonald backhanded an empty-netter after the Sharks pulled Niemi late as the Blues sealed their first playoff series victory in 10 years.
"We play the right way, the way we have to play to win," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "And everybody is on that same page, and almost afraid to get off it. I think having to rely on each other kept the stress and pressure away.
"It's a very unique team. There are no superstars. There's just a bunch of guys that grew up together, they're having fun together, and now they're counting on each other."