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Sharks blank Blues in Game 3, take 2-1 series lead

Hertl scores two goals, Jones makes 22 saves for second straight shutout

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks are in the Western Conference Final for the fourth time in their history, but they'd never led a series this deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs until Thursday.

Tomas Hertl scored two goals, Martin Jones made 22 saves for his second straight shutout, and the Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-0 in Game 3 at SAP Center to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

The Sharks are two wins away from their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final, but they're not looking past Game 4, which is in San Jose on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"It's a long ways to go," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "It really is. We'll worry about this next game and we'll take it from there. Got to have that same kind of energy. The crowd was great. It's a fun atmosphere out there."

It was Jones' third shutout of the playoffs, all in the past four games, tying Evgeni Nabokov for most in a single postseason (2004) in San Jose history.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm3: Jones turns away Stastny

Jones has not allowed a goal since Blues forward Jori Lehtera scored at 9:15 of the second period in Game 1. St. Louis has gone 150:45 without scoring.

"We've done it as a group," said Jones, who is the first goalie in Sharks history with back-to-back playoff shutouts. "I'm not being asked to steal these games."

The Blues needed seven games to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round and seven to move past the Dallas Stars in the second round.

"You got to win four games," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "This is nothing. ... We're the first team of these two teams that's taken the bump now. Somebody had to be down 2-1. Neither one of us have experienced that. So we're going to have to deal with it. But it's still only 2-1. And we had a lot of good things today."

Blues goaltender Brian Elliott allowed three goals on 14 shots and was replaced by Jake Allen at 6:09 of the third period after Hertl scored his second goal.

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

Hitchcock wasn't ready afterward to name his starting goalie for Game 4.

"I'm going to think about that one," he said. "Got two good goalies. Pretty good choice. Can't lose on either one."

Hertl scored in the first and third periods for his first multigoal NHL playoff game. Joonas Donskoi scored in the second period, and Pavelski and Joe Thornton each had two assists.

The Blues had the first four shots, but the Sharks took a 1-0 lead when Hertl scored at 15:53 of the first.

St. Louis defenseman Colton Parayko committed a turnover on a pass in the neutral zone, and Thornton moved the puck ahead to Pavelski. The San Jose captain sent a cross-ice pass through traffic to Hertl, who beat Elliott from the top of the left circle with a slap shot high to the glove side.

The Sharks made it 2-0 at 11:44 of the second period on Donskoi's fourth goal of the postseason. Once again, the Sharks capitalized on a turnover. This time, Donskoi broke up Robby Fabbri's pass in San Jose's end and started a 3-on-2 rush. Logan Couture passed from the left circle to the trailing Donskoi, who was wide open in the slot and scored on a wrist shot.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm3: Donskoi finishes rush with snipe

"We capitalized on a turnover on the first one, and Hertl made a big shot," Couture said. "Second one, same thing. A turnover and [Donskoi] was able to walk down the middle of the ice there and make another great shot."

The Blues got their only power play of the game at 15:01 of the second when Couture was called for high-sticking Patrik Berglund. San Jose killed its eighth straight penalty since St. Louis scored on its first power-play opportunity of the series in Game 1.

The Blues were outshooting the Sharks 15-13 after the second period but trailed by two goals. San Jose is 7-0 in the playoffs when leading entering the third.

Hertl increased San Jose's lead with 13:51 left when he scored his fifth goal of the playoffs. He took a pass from Thornton below the goal line, skated in front of the crease and beat Elliott with a wrist shot.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm3: Hertl slips puck past Elliott

Hitchcock promised changes to his lineup for Game 3, and there were plenty of them. Forwards Dmitrij Jaskin and Magnus Paajarvi replaced Steve Ott and Scottie Upshall on the fourth line. Paajarvi played his first career NHL playoff game. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo replaced rookie Joel Edmundson in the lineup and skated on the third pair with Carl Gunnarsson. Parayko moved up to the second pair with Kevin Shattenkirk.

Hitchcock also moved center Alexander Steen from the third line to the first. Steen traded places with Lehtera and skated between Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko. Lehtera skated between Berglund and David Backes.

The Blues dominated play early but couldn't score.

"They made some changes to the lineup, they made some changes to their structure a little bit too," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "They tried to push us back a little bit, create a little bit more space. I think it took us a little bit to adjust.

"I thought the first five, 10 minutes of the game, we were on our heels a little bit. But, you know, as the game wore on, we got more comfortable with how it was going to be played. I thought we got into a real rhythm and really took control."

St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said the Blues "took our foot off the gas" after the first 10 minutes.

"They had a momentum swing, and we couldn't see to get it back until halfway through the third," he said. "We need more of what we did in the first 10. We'll be OK. It's tough to win when you don't score. We can't leave our goalies out to dry like that. So it's on us now to find a way to get our offense going and find a way to score some goals."

Video: Hertl, Jones lead Sharks to 3-0 victory in Game 3

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