SAN JOSE – The San Jose Sharks will be looking for some payback – on the scoreboard, not the fight card – Monday night at HP Pavilion when they face the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series.
The Sharks suffered a 3-0 loss Saturday night at Scottrade Center in an emotionally-charged game that had a combined 132 penalty minutes, 88 of those stemming from a brawl at the third-period buzzer that featured three fights and two game misconducts.
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Sharks forward Dominic Moore suffered a broken nose during the melee, thanks to what coach Todd McLellan called a "sucker punch" from Blues winger Vladimir Sobotka. In another fight after the buzzer, Blues defenseman Roman Polak destroyed Sharks defenseman Justin Braun.
McLellan said Sunday that he liked the way his team "responded" to the physical challenge, but he made it clear that he's more concerned with his team winning Game 3 in this 1-1 series than gaining physical retribution.
"There's a lot of emotion in playoffs," McLellan said after the Sharks' brief practice. "We see that in each of the games played. At the end of the day, you've got to score more goals than the other team. You don't get to move on for winning the scraps and being in the penalty box more. We've got to control our emotions, we've got to focus our attention on the task at hand and not get wrapped up in all the other stuff that happens."
There was plenty of that "other stuff" throughout Game 2. Earlier in the game, Sharks defenseman Brent Burns elbowed Blues winger Scott Nichol, and Sharks forward TJ Galiardi had a big hit on Blues winger Andy McDonald that St. Louis took exception to. Sharks forward Joe Pavelski got into a scrap with Blues defenseman Kris Russell, and San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle dropped the gloves after he felt he was elbowed by St. Louis winger Alexander Steen.
The question now is whether there will be a carryover of animosity and fisticuffs from Game 2 to Game 3.
"Who knows?" Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "You just have to be prepared for everything. Ultimately we want to win Game 3, so that's what we're after."
Boyle said he doesn't expect Game 3 to mirror Game 2.
"I doubt it. I think both teams want to win more than they want to get payback, so to speak," Boyle said. "Winning is more important than anything right now. We'll see what happens. I'd like to think it's going to be a hard, physical game. That's what I think."
Galiardi said he expects some carryover of the bad blood, but "it's not going to be a focus of our game, by any means."
As for his hit on McDonald?
"I think he's just smaller than me," Galliardi said. "Just because he had his head down, [it] doesn't mean I elbowed him. I'm going to finish my check on anyone. … Just because the guy had a concussion, [it] doesn't mean I'm not going to hit him. If he wants to call it dirty, he can call it what he wants."
After San Jose beat the Blues 3-2 in double-overtime in Game 1, St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock made three changes in his lineup. McLellan said he is considering some changes after his team's loss in Game 2.
"Potentially, yeah. We have to look at some of the players that we haven't used yet and decide if we think they could make a significant difference," McLellan said. "We have some size there. Once you give up a little bit of speed for size, the tempo in the game changes, so we've got to decide what we want to do."
Brad Winchester, a big, physical winger, is one option. Center Michal Handzus is another. On the blue line, Colin White, who played well late in the regular season, is an option, as is Jim Vandermeer.
McLellan did not say whether the physicality of Game 2 would influence his decision.
"We'll figure that out over the next 24 hours," McLellan said.