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game recap

Allen, Blues defeat Sharks in Game 4

St. Louis evens Western Final against San Jose

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Goaltender Jake Allen provided the momentum change the St. Louis Blues were looking for in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at SAP Center on Saturday.

Allen made 31 saves in his first start of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Kyle Brodziak and Troy Brouwer each scored two goals, and the Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks 6-3 to tie the best-of-7 series 2-2.

Game 5 is at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Monday (8 p.m. ET; CBC, NBCSN, TVA Sports).

Allen started instead of Brian Elliott, a move coach Ken Hitchcock hoped would help St. Louis recapture an edge in the series. Hitchcock also shuffled his top three lines, leaving only the fourth line from Game 3 intact: Brodziak centered Dimitrij Jaskin and Magnus Paajarvi.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm4: Allen stretches for a great pad save

"He gave us exactly what we needed," Hitchcock said of Allen. "He's a competitive son of a gun. We needed a battler in there. We needed somebody to really help us play better defense. We played with more passion in front of him in our own zone because I made the goalie change. I had to make that decision.

"I just felt like we were allowing them too much open space with [Elliott] in there, and [he] was getting bombarded. We needed to just dig in a little bit deeper defensively if we were going to have a chance in this series."

Hitchcock said he'll wait until Sunday to name a starting goaltender for Game 5, but Allen appeared to have earned that role.

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, who was coming off back-to-back shutouts, gave up four goals on 19 shots and was pulled at 10:11 of the second period with San Jose trailing 4-0. He was replaced by James Reimer, who allowed one goal on seven shots in his first playoff appearance with San Jose.

Joe Pavelski, Chris Tierney and Melker Karlsson scored in the third period for the Sharks, who outshot the Blues 16-5 in the period.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm4: Brouwer nets gorgeous tic-tac-toe PPG

"We got away from our game," Sharks forward Tommy Wingels said. "Our game is going north with it, it's making plays when they're there. It's getting pucks past their [defensemen], through the neutral zone and in on the forecheck. And we got away from that. We turned pucks over, we turned it into a track meet for the first 20-30 minutes, and this team's not going to win when we play that way."

The Blues, on the other hand, got back to playing their strong, no-frills game.

"It's two teams that want to play pretty similar, possess the puck in the other team's end, and it seems whoever has controlled that has really controlled the games," St. Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said.

The Blues took a 1-0 lead at 6:14 of the first period on Brouwer's power-play goal with Brent Burns in the penalty box for tripping Jaden Schwartz.

Robby Fabbri sent a pass from below the goal line to Brouwer, and he beat Jones with a wrist shot from the right circle to the far side for his sixth goal of the playoffs.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm4: Brodziak nets shorthanded goal

The goal was St. Louis' first since 9:15 of the second period of Game 1 when Lehtera scored in a 2-1 victory. It ended San Jose's streak of eight penalty kills in the series.

Jones' shutout streak ended at 153:57, short of Evgeni Nabokov's Sharks record of 178:14 set in 2004.

St. Louis extended its lead to 2-0 when Jori Lehtera scored from the slot at 10:11 of the first period. Jones made a diving stick save of Fabbri's shot from the low left circle, but Lehtera capitalized on a Burns turnover and beat Jones with a wrist shot.

Brodziak made it 3-0 at 6:09 of the second period with a shorthanded goal, his first goal of the playoffs. A long pass by Sharks forward Joe Thornton turned into a turnover in the offensive zone, igniting a 2-on-1 rush the other way. Schwartz made a cross-ice pass, and Brodziak beat Jones from the right circle to the upper left corner of the net.

"He made a great pass over to me," Brodziak said. "Fortunately I was able to put it in the net. It feels good to chip in."

Brodziak scored again at 10:11, taking a pass from Jaskin and beating Jones from the left circle through the five-hole.

Allen, who hadn't started a game since April 3, said he was ready.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm4: Allen makes a nice pad save

"I've tried to practice as hard as I can," he said. "My comfort level is really high, and I felt confident out there."

Pavelski made it 4-1 at 1:05 of the third period with his playoff-leading 10th goal. He tapped in a pass from Thornton from along the left boards.

Brouwer redirected Alexander Steen's shot from the point past Reimer for a power-play goal at 3:55, making it 5-1.

"We knew they were going to come out like that," Tierney said. "The problem was our game. We weren't hard enough. We didn't do the little things. We were lazy a couple times. We made a bad change, our line, on the second [goal]. Just stuff like that we usually don't do.

"They came out harder and outworked us tonight. We were lazy. They were beating us inside, at their net, along the walls. It seemed like we got outbattled early, and we could never really recover from it."

Tierney scored an unassisted goal on a sharp-angle shot at 6:57 of the third. Alex Pietrangelo scored into an empty net at 15:39 for St. Louis, and Karlsson scored an unassisted goal from close range at 16:28 for San Jose.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm4: Karlsson deflects puck past Allen

"We have to play a lot of the way we played today if we expect to win," Hitchcock said. "We played fast. We played physical. We created turnovers. We have to play like that. If we do it like that, continue down this path, I like our chances. I like our chances to win."

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said he expects his team to bounce back.

"We've been consistently good for a while," DeBoer said. "We didn't execute tonight. We got burnt. We got what we deserved because of our execution. Short memory. We'll move on to the next game. We've had one or two of these games throughout the playoffs and we've always responded the right way."

Blues captain David Backes didn't play in the final two periods after sustaining an undisclosed injury in the first. Fabbri did not play the final 16:05. Hitchcock said he expects them to be ready for Game 5.

Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson, who was scratched in Game 3, returned to the lineup in place of Robert Bortuzzo.

Video: Blues score six goals in Game 4 to even the series

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