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5 Keys: Sharks at Blues, Game 4

San Jose seeks second-line production; St. Louis needs spark from power play in bid to even series

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / Staff Writer



San Jose leads best-of-7 series 2-1

The San Jose Sharks will try to take a 3-1 series lead over the St. Louis Blues when they meet in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at Enterprise Center on Friday.

Defenseman Erik Karlsson scored 5:23 into overtime in the Sharks' 5-4 win against the Blues on Wednesday after San Jose forward Logan Couture tied the game with 1:01 to play in regulation.


[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Blues series coverage]


The Sharks have a 11-4 series record after holding a 2-1 lead. They have a 2-1 lead in the conference final for second time in their history; San Jose defeated St. Louis in six games in the 2016 conference final.

Here are 5 keys to Game 4:


1. Moving on

The Blues spoke about how they're putting Game 3 in the past. Now they have to put that into practice.

"We are excited. It's a new day," forward Pat Maroon said. "Probably the biggest game of the year is tonight. We have to set the tone right away. Let them know we're coming, and we are [ticked] off. We are in a really good situation. Find a way to win a hockey game. Go from there."


2. Holding leads

The Sharks were happy with their start in Game 3, when they led 2-0 after the first period. But by the end of the second, St. Louis had gone ahead 4-3. San Jose understands it cannot be as lax in such situations.

"You can't surrender four [goals] in the second," San Jose defenseman Justin Braun said. "Keep pushing for offense and don't sit back. A few games we've been up in these playoffs, we've sat back and given the lead back. We have to work on that."


3. Power-play breakthrough?

Forward David Perron scored on the Blues' only power play in Game 3. It was the first St. Louis power-play goal since forward Vladimir Tarasenko scored at 5:02 of the first period of Game 4 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Dallas Stars. The Blues were 0-for-18 on the power play between those two goals.

"I think the more shots you get the more opportunities you're going to get," center Tyler Bozak said. "If there's a rebound or a tip or something, get those loose pucks and create plays after that. So yeah, it's just getting pucks through and getting pucks on net."

Video: SJS@STL, Gm3: Perron nets PPG for second of the game


4. San Jose needs more from second line

Sharks forward Joe Pavelski has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past four games since returning from an upper-body injury. But the remainder of San Jose's second line, center Tomas Hertl and forward Evander Kane, need to produce more. Hertl has two points (one goal, one assist) in his past five games; each came in Game 7 against the Colorado Avalanche in the second round. Kane has two assists in his past eight games.

"Just [play] a little bit more north-south hockey with our line and getting some more pucks to crash into the net," Kane said. "We had a couple of shifts in that [last] game where, when we did that, we had some good scoring opportunities and had some success spending time in their end during those shifts. We can do that more consistently and spent less time in our zone, too."


5. Adjusting without Dunn

Blues defenseman Vince Dunn will not play in Game 4; Carl Gunnarsson replaces him.

Dunn was hit in the mouth by a shot from Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon in the first period of Game 3, did not return and is day to day. Dunn has seven points (two goals, five assists) in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games and plays the point on the power play. St. Louis will have to fill in the gaps in his absence.

"We feel like we're pretty deep as a group on defense," Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "It's opportunities this time of year. Opportunities pretty much present themselves every night. I think if anything, we can kind of use that as a team to rally around it. He's a likable guy. Everyone likes him in the room. I think you try and use it that way."


Sharks projected lineup

Timo Meier -- Logan Couture - Gustav Nyquist

Evander Kane -- Tomas Hertl -- Joe Pavelski 

Melker Karlsson -- Joe Thornton -- Kevin Labanc

Marcus Sorensen -- Barclay Goodrow -- Joonas Donskoi

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon -- Erik Karlsson

Joakim Ryan -- Justin Braun

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Micheal Haley, Dylan Gambrell, Tim Heed, Lukas Radil, Radim Simek, Antti Suomela

Injured: None


Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Brayden Schenn -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Sammy Blais -- Ryan O'Reilly -- David Perron

Pat Maroon -- Tyler Bozak -- Robert Thomas

Ivan Barbashev -- Oskar Sundqvist -- Alexander Steen

Joel Edmundson -- Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester -- Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

Scratched: Robby Fabbri, Michael Del Zotto, Zach Sanford, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn, Chris Butler, Ville Husso

Injured: Vince Dunn (upper body)


Status report

Sorensen, a healthy scratch in Game 3, is expected to replace Haley. ... Thomas missed his second straight morning skate but is expected to play. correspondent Louie Korac contributed to this report


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