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Conference Final

Schwartz shines for Blues in Game 5 win against Sharks

Gets second hat trick of playoffs, tops goal total from regular season

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Jaden Schwartz's confidence is as high as it's been all season.

And for the St. Louis Blues, it couldn't have come at a better time after he scored his second hat trick of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a 5-0 win against the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final at SAP Center on Sunday.

The Blues lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and are one win from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970. Game 6 is at St. Louis on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS).

Video: STL@SJS, Gm5: Schwartz records hat trick in Game 5

It's been some kind of turnaround in the playoffs for Schwartz. He is second in the NHL with 12 goals in 18 games, behind Sharks forward Logan Couture (14), after scoring 11 goals in 69 regular-season games.

Schwartz, who also had a hat trick in a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 6 of the first round, is the first player in Blues history with multiple hat tricks in a single postseason and the first to do so in the NHL since Johan Franzen did it with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008. 

"That's something you don't really think about before the game," Schwartz said about getting a hat trick. "You're just kind of preparing the way you usually do and get focused for the game and help the team. Sometimes you get some bounces your way and you never score a goal by yourself. You need your linemates, your D, [Jordan Binnington] to make big saves, timely saves. We've been a team where depth has got us here and different guys step up every night. Tonight was no different."

Schwartz and linemates Vladimir Tarasenko (one goal, two assists) and Brayden Schenn (one assist, 10-for-13 on face-offs) combined to give the Sharks all sorts of problems on Sunday.

"I think we've seen that at times," Berube said. "Obviously, we've seen that going back a year, two years. If you remember 30 games in, they were one of the best lines in the National Hockey League (to start the 2017-18 season). They've been really good at times going forward and putting it all together and they're definitely doing a good job now. They're working hard together, and when they're working hard together and they're doing things together out there, connected, they're a real good line."

 

[RELATED: Full Sharks vs. Blues series coverage | Blues not ready to punch Cup Final ticket yet]

 

Tarasenko, who converted the first penalty shot in Blues history at 6:53 of the second period to make it 3-0, has enhanced the line's effectiveness by playing a physical role.

"It's huge," Schwartz said. "For a guy to score as many goals as he does, to do all the little things goes a long way. Watching from the bench, watching other players sacrifice and work, it kind of builds momentum for everyone, it builds energy. When your leading goal-scorer's getting to the net, being physical and bringing energy, it wears off on everyone else. And this time of year, it's huge."

Berube put the Schwartz-Schenn-Tarasenko line back together in Game 6 of the second round against the Dallas Stars, when the Blues were trailing that series 3-2. St. Louis is 5-2 since.

"I feel when we're skating, moving our feet, tight defensively, we're hard to play against and that kind of leads to us supporting each other, taking care of pucks and getting our forecheck going," Schenn said. "Forecheck is a huge part of our game, cycle game's kind of how we score a lot of our goals. I think just moving our feet and hard to play against is part of our game."

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