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Blues win special-teams battle in Game 1

Shut down Sharks power play, score on one of two man-advantage chances

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Special teams were the difference for the St. Louis Blues in their 2-1 win against the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at Scottrade Center on Sunday.

St. Louis scored on one of its two power-play opportunities and was 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.

"We take a lot of pride in our special teams," Blues forward Alexander Steen said. "Tonight, we were able to get one on the power play and our penalty kill worked hard, did great, but the best penalty-killer is [goalie Brian Elliott], and he's been playing great for us.

"... I think everybody is extremely detailed when it comes to special teams. And that's what has given us success throughout the year and it's something that we want to continue to do. So we'll continue to look at the little details in their power play and how we want to manage it and help our goalie out the best way we can. Ultimately, he's our best penalty-killer and he's been playing great for us."

Elliott made five of his 31 saves with the Sharks on the power play.

St. Louis had the better of the play in the first period, outshooting San Jose 11-8, and captain David Backes opened the scoring with a power-play goal with 4:56 remaining.

Video: SJS@STL, Gm1: Backes opens the scoring late in 1st

The Blues came out of the period tied 1-1 because Tomas Hertl scored for the Sharks 34 seconds after Backes' goal, and San Jose outshot them 24-12 and had a huge territorial edge the rest of the way.

But the Sharks, who entered the series 13-for-42 (30.9 percent) on the power play in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, couldn't get the equalizer after Blues center Paul Stastny was called for hooking Joe Pavelski at 8:44 of the third period.

St. Louis defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester were on the ice for 4:16 of San Jose's six minutes of power-play time.

"They were hot in the last series, they have a lot of big numbers on the power play," Pietrangelo said. "We wanted to limit their chances on the power play. We took a couple; be nice if we took none. We stepped up to the challenge like that, it was a big topic for us all week. We executed the way we wanted to."

The Sharks power play burned the Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators in the first two rounds, but the Blues were relishing the chance to shut it down, or at least slow it down.

"It's huge," St. Louis defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "We're really excited about this opportunity. We have a tough opponent over there on the power play, and it's something (where) we're going to have to be on our toes for the entire series because they're lethal. Tonight was just a great job."

They'll get another opportunity against the Sharks power play in Game 2 at Scottrade Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

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