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Instant analysis: Blues at Sharks, Game 3

Jones makes 22 saves in second straight shutout, San Jose leads Western Conference Final 2-1

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-0 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on Thursday at SAP Center. The Sharks lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.

Forward Tomas Hertl scored twice and Joonas Donskoi also had a goal. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 22 saves to earn his second straight shutout. He has not allowed a goal since 9:15 of the second period of Game 1; San Jose has a shutout streak of 150:45, more than seven periods. The Blues couldn't score even though they pulled their goaltender for the final 5:31.

What we learned: The Sharks will make this a short series unless the Blues find a way to tilt the ice the other way. The Sharks were the better team for much of Game 1, even though they lost 2-1, and for the vast majority of Games 2 and 3, in which they outscored the Blues by a combined 7-0. From the first line to the fourth line, they are beating the Blues at their own game: keeping them to the outside in the defensive zone, forcing turnovers, controlling the puck in the offensive zone and wearing them down.

What this means for the Sharks: They have won six straight home games and are 6-1 at SAP Center in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their only home loss came in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round against the Los Angeles Kings, and that was in overtime. They hold a 2-1 lead for the third straight series. They beat the Kings in five games and the Nashville Predators in seven in the second round.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm3: Hertl hammers slap shot past Elliott

What this means for the Blues: After taking 2-1 leads in their first two series, they face a 2-1 deficit in this one. St. Louis went seven games against the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars in the first two rounds; all that hockey might be taking a toll already, and now the Blues will have to go at least six games if they're going to beat the Sharks. It will be hard enough to get to the Stanley Cup Final, let alone win the Cup.

Key moment: The Blues got off to a good start, possessing the puck, applying pressure. Then rookie defenseman Colton Parayko forced a pass through the neutral zone to Lehtera, who was covered by Sharks defenseman Brent Burns. The pass was broken up, and the Sharks attacked. Joe Thornton passed to Joe Pavelski, who fed Hertl for a slap shot that beat goaltender Brian Elliott at 15:53 of the first period, giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead and the momentum.

Unsung player of the game: Defenseman Roman Polak, a former Blue, blocked six shots and delivered six hits on a night in which the Sharks blocked 26 shots and outhit the Blues 41-21.

What's next: Game 4 is Saturday at SAP Center (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

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