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Sharks win battle, lose war to Blues in Game 1

San Jose's stellar play against St. Louis undone by Burns' costly mistake

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director, Editorial

ST. LOUIS -- The San Jose Sharks won the battle in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, but the war went to the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on Sunday.

A tentative, feeling-out process of a first period ended tied after Blues forward David Backes and Sharks forward Tomas Hertl scored goals 34 seconds apart.

Then, San Jose got to its game first in the second period, powered by a rampaging top line of Hertl, center Joe Thornton and right wing Joe Pavelski.

At times, it was breathtaking to watch, but it proved to be all sound and fury and little substance as the Sharks could not solve Blues goalie Brian Elliott, who stopped all 16 shots he faced in the period.

"[Elliott] was really good in the second period when we needed him," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "That's what happens. You're going to need him sometimes. I thought he made big saves in the second and helped us."

Video: SJS@STL, Gm1: Pavelski's tip goes in off Hertl

While Elliott was under siege, Blues center Jori Lehtera found one opening to counter attack and scored at 9:15 of the period with a knuckleball shot, one of five the Blues managed in the second.

It was enough to be the difference in a 2-1 victory for the Blues, who lead the best-of-7 series 1-0 with Game 2 here on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"Really I thought in the second period, you know, the tragedy of the second period was we spent the whole period in their end and lost the period 1-0," San Jose coach Pete DeBoer said. "That was basically the game."

Lehtera's goal came on a turnover by Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, one of the few blemishes for him on a night when he had 14 shot attempts and earned a secondary assist on the goal by Hertl.

Video: SJS@STL, Gm1: Lehtera picks off pass, lights the lamp

Burns took possession of the puck in the neutral zone and surveyed the ice as he skated backward. As he reached his own blue line, he passed in the direction of center Chris Tierney along the half-wall.

Lehtera jumped the pass, intercepted the puck and turned the play the other way.

"Kind of a weird play," Burns said. "Obviously, I didn't see [Lehtera] coming. If you are asking if I passed to him, no I didn't."

Upon reaching the top of the left circle, Lehtera took a shot and the puck knuckled as it took flight toward Sharks goalie Martin Jones. When the puck reached Jones, it hit off the inside of his arm and squeezed through the smallest of openings and into the net.

Video: SJS@STL, Gm1: Backes and Thornton exchange beard tugs

"Rolling pucks, those are tough," Burns said, referencing that the puck was on its side when Lehtera shot it.

The Sharks, who had been held to less than two goals only twice this postseason, thought the equalizer would come. They generated 43 shot attempts during the final two periods and felt they were one shot away from tying the game.

That shot never materialized.

Now, the Sharks must find a way to win Game 2 to send the series to California even.

"Obviously, the goal was to win two [in St. Louis], but now we can pull one out here and that is the goal now," San Jose right wing Joel Ward said.

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