ST. LOUIS -- All things considered, the St. Louis Blues had to be pleased with their efforts on the penalty kill against the San Jose Sharks through four games of the Western Conference Final.
But the Blues couldn't stay away from the costly penalty in Game 5, and the Sharks made them pay twice in a 6-3 victory. San Jose leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 with a chance to advance to its first Stanley Cup Final in Game 6 at SAP Center on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
The Blues had given up two power-play goals (both in Game 2) on 15 attempts and stifled the Sharks, including 5-for-5 in a 6-3 win in Game 4 that sent the series back to St. Louis tied 2-2.
The Sharks converted their first two chances, both off Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk minor penalties, on goals by Joel Ward and Joe Pavelski in the second period and finished the game 2-for-3.
"This is the first time we made, in this series, checking errors killing penalties," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "That hurt us today. Both power plays were scored because we made checking errors. We tried to pour numbers into a battle we should have stayed away from. We made errors. A couple young guys made mistakes that a year from now they're not going to make. We made mistakes at the wrong time against good players who can keep plays alive.
Video: SJS@STL, Gm5: Ward cleans up rebound out of midair
"They kept plays alive. We were looking for the clear. We shouldn't have poured the numbers in where we did."
Ward's first of two goals tied the game 2-2 at 4:37 after a lengthy shift in the Blues zone, and Pavelski scored at 18:33 to make it 3-3 after St. Louis was caught with too many men below the goal line. Pavelski was open in the slot when Joe Thornton found him after getting open to the left of Blues goalie Jake Allen.
"I thought the killer goal was the third one," Hitchcock said. "We had the lead, we built some good shifts. They caught us on a little bit of a change, took a penalty and we were really doing well killing the penalty, but we made two mistakes. We got stuck behind the net, and I thought the energy on our bench, which was excellent, really dropped a little bit after the third goal, not the fourth [goal] to me. That was the difference."
In one of the biggest games of the year, the Blues needed their special teams to win; they got a power-play goal from rookie Robby Fabbri but couldn't contain San Jose's power play when it mattered most.
"Yeah, that's obviously frustrating on our part with the way we worked last game on the penalty kill too," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said.
"It's the same power play it's been all series," Fabbri said. "They just capitalized on their chances this game."