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Undisciplined Blues drop Game 2 to Sharks

Preventable penalties prove costly as St. Louis loses another home playoff game

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues preached discipline the moment they found out they were playing the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

Entering the series, the Sharks boasted the top power play among the four remaining Stanley Cup Playoff teams (30.9 percent) and were second overall to the Chicago Blackhawks, who the Blues defeated in the first round.

The Blues' discipline that was on display in Game 1 was nowhere to be found in Game 2. The Sharks won 4-0 at Scottrade Center on Tuesday to even the best-of-7 series 1-1.

Game 3 is at SAP Center on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Blues took five penalties in Game 2, and Sharks defenseman Brent Burns made Troy Brouwer pay for both of his minors with two power-play goals. The first of Brouwer's penalties came behind the play in the San Jose zone, a slash on Burns, and the second was a high-sticking penalty in the offensive zone.

Video: SJS@STL, Gm2: Jones blanks the Blues in Gm2 of WCF

Blues forward David Backes took a tripping penalty after failing to clear the Blues zone in the first period, veteran Steve Ott was whistled for interference in the second and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was called for slashing Sharks center Joe Thornton out of frustration in the third.

"When you want to play a different way than the game's going to allow you to play, then you can go two ways," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "You can either dig in and go the right way or you can become frustrated at times and try freelancing or in our case, take penalties. And we went the other way. We got frustrated, we took penalties and then regrouped ourselves in the third period, but we're down 2-0, the other team's able to sit on it a little bit."

The Sharks force teams to play a certain way. In the case of the Blues, the Sharks beat them at their own game with a heavy forecheck and by clogging up large portions of the ice. When the Blues couldn't move the puck, they got frustrated, and when they got frustrated, they sat in the penalty box.

"We reacted tonight," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "We just weren't ourselves out there. That's something we just have to control a little bit more is our emotions. We have done it well the entire playoffs up until tonight. Again, that's an area we have to improve on and learn from tonight. It is going to be a bigger test when we go on the road to San Jose.

"They are a frustrating team to play against. They check you hard and are very disciplined. Their structure can frustrate you and I think that is what we do well, too. So, we have to make sure we are trying to get on the other side of that. They were smart tonight. They didn't react to us. They took our shots and were able to answer it."

Video: SJS@STL, Gm2: Burns nets a pair in Game 2 win

Part of the frustration that trickles down to poor penalties and making the extra play is the Blues' inability to win on home ice. The loss Tuesday puts them at 4-5 in the playoffs as opposed to 5-2 on the road, which has Hitchcock baffled.

"We've seen this at home for a while," Hitchcock said. "I'm not sure why, I'm not sure the players even know why. We seem to want to play a little different at home than we do on the road. We got away with it in Game 1 and didn't get away with it today, at all. They were much better than us probably in every aspect, especially on special teams and we tried to play the same way we did in Game 1 and didn't get away with it.

"... We have played two 'B' games and I think at times quite frankly, we're fortunate it's 1-1, and we'll take 1-1 right now with the way we've played. We have another level that we can play at, we've seen it, but it hasn't come out at home as much as it has in other buildings for whatever reason."

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