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Instant analysis: Sharks at Blues, Game 5

San Jose one win from first Stanley Cup Final; Tarasenko a non-factor for St. Louis again

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

ST. LOUIS - The San Jose Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues 6-3 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final at Scottrade Center on Monday.

The Sharks lead the best-of-7 series 3-2.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski scored twice, including the winner 16 seconds into the third period, and leads the NHL with 12 goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Forward Joel Ward also had two goals (one an empty-netter), and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and forward Chris Tierney (empty net) also scored for San Jose.

Forwards Jaden Schwartz, Troy Brouwer and Robby Fabbri scored for the Blues.

Video: SJS@STL, Gm5: Ward cleans up rebound out of midair

What we learned: These teams can play entertaining, dramatic hockey. After three lopsided games - 4-0 Sharks, 3-0 Sharks, 6-3 Blues - they went back and forth with speed, skill and animosity. Both were desperate. Both made plays 5-on-5. Both scored on the power play, the Sharks 2-for-3, the Blues 1-for-3. The game was tied 3-3 entering the third period and stayed tight until the final minute.

What this means for the Sharks: They are one win from their first Stanley Cup Final in their 25-year history, closer than ever before. The Sharks set a team record for playoff wins in a season with 11, reaching three wins in the conference final after getting two (2004 vs. the Calgary Flames), one (2011 vs. the Vancouver Canucks) and none (2010 vs. the Chicago Blackhawks) in their previous three appearances. San Jose has a chance to close out St. Louis at SAP Center, where it is 6-2 in these playoffs.

What this means for the Blues: They hit the road facing elimination. To reach the Stanley Cup Final, the Blues will have to become the second team in NHL history to win three seven-game series in the first three rounds; the Los Angeles Kings did so in 2014. They need more from Vladimir Tarasenko, who had 40 goals and 74 points in the regular season, and seven goals and 13 points in the first two rounds of the playoffs but doesn't have a point in this series.

Video: SJS@STL, Gm5: Brouwer swats home goal for the lead

Key moment: Pavelski might be the best in the League at deflecting the puck, and he used his skill to score the game-winning goal. With the game tied 3-3 at the start of the third period, the Sharks established themselves in the St. Louis zone. Pavelski went to the net as defenseman Brent Burns shot from the right point. As the puck headed wide left, Pavelski reached out with his stick and caught it with his blade. It dipped past goaltender Jake Allen, giving the Sharks a 4-3 lead.

Unsung player of the game: Not only did Vlasic score his first goal of the playoffs, he had a primary assist on another San Jose goal, ringing a shot off the left post before Ward scored on the rebound. He also had four shots, nine shot attempts, four blocked shots and a takeaway in a team-high 24:49.

What's next: Game 6 is Wednesday at SAP Center in San Jose (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

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