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5 Keys: Blues at Sharks, Game 2

St. Louis needs to improve on face-offs; San Jose tries to extend lead in Western Final

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer



San Jose leads best-of-7 series 1-0

The San Jose Sharks will look to take a 2-0 series lead against the St. Louis Blues when they play Game 2 of the Western Conference Final at SAP Center on Monday.

San Jose won 6-3 in Game 1 on Saturday, the third straight series it has won the first game.


[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Blues series coverage]


Since the conference format was adopted for the 1981-82 season, teams that take a 2-0 lead in the conference finals have a series record of 30-2 (.938).

Here are 5 keys for Game 2:


1. Bounce back from Binnington

Blues goalie Jordan Binnington went 6-0-0 with a .935 save percentage following a loss in the regular season and is 3-2 with a .934 save percentage (10 goals on 151 shots) in that situation in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He allowed five goals on 24 shots in Game 1.

"Nothing seems to really bother him, so we're not worried about that," Blues forward Pat Maroon said. "I thought he made some really good saves. I thought he was really good again, but we just left him out to dry."


2. Can Sharks win Game 2?

After winning Game 1 at home against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round and the Colorado Avalanche in the second round, San Jose has failed to follow with a win in Game 2. Those are the only losses the Sharks have had at home this postseason (7-2).

"We have to realize the opportunity here to go up 2-0," Sharks forward Gustav Nyquist said. "Not take your foot off the gas, keep doing the same stuff we did in Game 1, at least the first couple periods, and [it would be] big to take the next one as well."


3. Sharks' scoring depth

San Jose has six players who have at least 10 points in the playoffs, including four who have scored at least five goals. Among those, Logan Couture leads the NHL in goals (11) and points (17) in the postseason, and defenseman Erik Karlsson leads in assists with 13.

"There's a great offensive team [the Tampa Bay Lightning] sitting at home right now, so that doesn't necessarily win you Stanley Cups," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "You have to defend this time of year, you have to have a heaviness to your game. That's nice, it can cover up mistakes, it can give you a little bit of a cushion, it helps, you definitely want it ... but it doesn't guarantee you anything."


4. Physicality from Blues

St. Louis outhit San Jose 41-35 in Game 1 and 15 of its 18 skaters had at least one hit, led by forward Sammy Blais (seven). Oskar Sundqvist and Brayden Schenn each had five.

Evander Kane led the Sharks with six, and Timo Meier and Justin Braun each had five.

"I think the hits were there, and we're going to be physical," Blues coach Craig Berube said "I think you got to be physical, but at the same time, we don't want to be running around and just trying to hit them. You have to play the game and you have to play the game with the puck."


5. Face-offs

The Blues ranked sixth during the regular season in face-off win percentage (51.4 percent) but are 11th out of the 16 playoff teams at 48.4 percent, the lowest of the conference finalists.

In Game 1, they won 31 of 73 face-offs (42.5 percent). Ryan O'Reilly, who ranked eighth in the NHL in the regular season at 56.9 percent (minimum 500 face-offs), lost 17 of 32 draws. Ivan Barbashev (3-for-4) was the only Blues player to win more than half of his attempts. 

Tomas Hertl led the Sharks, winning 21 of 34 face-offs (61.8).

"They are a really good face-off team. They have a lot of guys in there, obviously, that can win face-offs," said Blues forward Tyler Bozak, who went 6-for-13 in Game 1. "They got the better of us the first game. ... That's something that we weren't great in the last series (46.3 percent against the Dallas Stars) and something we need to improve upon as a group."


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

Vince Dunn -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

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

Injured: None


Sharks projected lineup

Timo Meier -- Logan Couture - Gustav Nyquist

Evander Kane -- Tomas Hertl -- Joe Pavelski 

Marcus Sorensen -- Joe Thornton -- Kevin Labanc

Joonas Donskoi -- Barclay Goodrow -- Melker Karlsson

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


Status report 

Each team is expected to use the same lineup from Game 1.


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