GAME: San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinal; Sharks lead 2-0.
TIME: Monday, 9 p.m. EDT.
The St. Louis Blues are loaded with veterans with plenty of playoff
That hasn't been apparent through the first two games of this postseason.
St. Louis looks to avoid a 3-0 series deficit when their quarterfinal series
against the disciplined San Jose Sharks shifts to the Savvis Center.
With the Blues and Sharks meeting in the first round for the third time in
five seasons, this figured to be a physical series. While St. Louis has played
a rugged style, it also has been undisciplined and taken far too many
penalties, resulting in 17 power plays for San Jose.
After the teams played a fairly even contest in San Jose's 1-0 overtime
victory in the series opener, the Blues came unglued in Game 2. St. Louis gave
the Sharks 13 power plays, with captain Chris Pronger spending eight of the
game's first 14 minutes in the penalty box.
"The first game, they let the marginal stuff go," said Pronger, who got
six minor penalties. "All of the sudden, when they switch and call everything,
it's difficult. It's tough to switch gears midstream like that, and it's up to
us to adapt, but it's a little late."
Patrick Marleau scored the first of his three goals late in the first period
on the power play, and Evgeni Nabokov nearly posted his second consecutive
shutout in San Jose's 3-1 victory.
Marleau added another power-play goal in the second period and completed the
second postseason hat trick in Sharks' history with a short-handed goal in the
third. Vincent Damphousse set up two scores for San Jose, two wins away from
its second conference semifinals appearance in three seasons.
Marleau's performance came after he scored just one goal in the final 17
games of the regular season.
"I'm getting used to new linemates, but if I'm working hard and trying
things that will make the team win, it doesn't really matter," Marleau said.
While St. Louis has had difficulty containing San Jose's speed, the Sharks
also have been much better keeping their aggression under control.
"They talked about getting more physical so we were expecting them to
disturb our discipline and get under our skin," Damphousse said. "But it
didn't work. We kept our cool. We just turned the cheek and tried to battle
St. Louis could have a bigger problem on its hands than a lack of
Starting goalie Chris Osgood, who appeared to injure his knee in the first
period, left Game 2 after allowing Marleau's third goal 48 seconds into the
third period and was replaced by Reinhard Divis.
Though Osgood is expected to start Game 3, the Blues need him to be in top
form if they are to get back into this series and rally from a 2-0 series
deficit for the first time since 1972.
Winning Game 3 is critical for St. Louis because only two teams - the 1942
Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders - have won a best-of-seven
series after losing the first three games.
"We're still in this series," Blues coach Mike Kitchen said. "Absolutely.
Absolutely. The way we play, look at the way we played. Our (penalty kill) was
terrific. We have two home games coming up. We win there, we tie the series. I
like our energy. We just have to make sure of our discipline. We get that,
we'll be fine."
Including a 3-0 loss at Minnesota in their regular season finale, the Blues
have scored one goal in their last three games. Left wing Keith Tkachuk, the
team leader with 33 goals this season, has no points in his last five contests.
Game 4 is Tuesday at the Savvis Center.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Sharks - 104 points; 2nd seed. Blues - 91 points; 7th
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Marleau, 3 goals; Damphousse, 3 assists;
Marleau and Damphousse, 3 points; Niko Dimitrakos, 6 PIM. Blues - Doug Weight,
1 goal and 1 point; Pronger, 12 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Sharks - Power play: 11.8 percent (2 for 17). Penalty
killing: 100 percent (12 for 12). Blues - Power play: 0.0 percent (0 for 12).
Penalty killing: 88.2 percent (15 for 17).
GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Nabokov (2-0, 1 SO, 0.47 GAA); Vesa Toskala (no
appearances). Blues - Osgood (0-2, 2.18); Divis (0-0, 0.00).