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5 Keys: Blues at Sharks, Game 5

St. Louis, San Jose each look to take lead in Western Final

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

BLUES at SHARKS

3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

Best-of-7 series tied 2-2

The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues will each try to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Final when they play Game 5 at SAP Center on Sunday.

The Blues scored twice in the first period before holding off the Sharks for a 2-1 win in Game 4. It was the 10th victory of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for St. Louis, tying its record it set in 1986 and 2016.

When the conference final/semifinal is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has a series record of 19-8 (70.4%).

Here are 5 Keys to Game 5:

 

1. Binnington stays strong

Blues rookie goalie Jordan Binnington continues to handle the playoff pressure well. He's 10-7 with a 2.58 goals-against average and .908 save percentage, the first goalie in Blues history to win at least 10 games in a single postseason and the 10th rookie to do so in NHL history.

St. Louis expects the same steadiness from him in Game 5.

"He's been dynamite for us back there all year," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. "He's just doing his thing and just a lot of confidence in him from the whole team. Every single game he's given us a chance to win, so yeah, there's not much more to say. He's been unbelievable for us and such a huge part of our success."

Video: SJS@STL, Gm4: Binnington flashes leather on Karlsson

 

2. Home sweet home

The Sharks didn't get off to a great start in Game 4, but they're confident they can find their game immediately at home Sunday. San Jose is 7-3 at SAP Center this postseason and has outscored its opponents 39-29. 

"The series is tied up now, best out of three, and we've got home-ice advantage," Sharks forward Gustav Nyquist said. "We have to make sure we take advantage of that. We've been good at home and we'll be ready to play tomorrow."

 

3. Better finish

The Blues spent the final minutes of Game 4 in much the same situation as Game 3, trying to withstand pressure from the Sharks, icing the puck a few times and barely missing on an empty-net goal. Although they were able to hold off the Sharks on Friday, they know they have to avoid getting on their heels in Game 5. 

"We have to [have] a more consistent game," Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly said. "We need a similar start to [Game 4] where we have all lines going, we're skating, we're physical. When we do that, we wear them down, we make it hard on their [defense] and we get chances off it."

 

4. Tough deflections

The Sharks will take redirected and deflected pucks, but they need to get more of those near Binnington and not Martin Jones

Of the six goals the Blues have scored in the past two games, three have gone off a Sharks player or stick, including two off defenseman Justin Braun.

 

5. Contributions from fourth line

The Blues have been happy with their fourth line of Ivan Barbashev-Oskar Sundqvist-Alexander Steen, and understandably so. Barbashev gave the Blues a 1-0 lead 35 seconds into Game 4 as they continue to set an example for the rest of the team.

"They actually do a great job all three periods," Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko said. "They start really well, obviously, first period. They give us a lot of emotions and set the game in the right way. Everybody has to follow and play like they start."

Video: SJS@STL, Gm4: Barbashev scores in opening minute

 

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, Ville Husso

Injured: Vince Dunn (upper body)

 

Sharks projected lineup

Timo Meier -- Logan Couture -- Gustav Nyquist

Evander Kane -- Tomas Hertl -- Joe Pavelski

Melker Karlsson -- Joe Thornton -- Kevin Labanc

Joonas Donskoi -- Barclay Goodrow -- Micheal Haley

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon -- Erik Karlsson

Joakim Ryan -- Justin Braun

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Marcus Sorensen, Dylan Gambrell, Tim Heed, Lukas Radil, Radim Simek, Antti Suomela 

Injured: None

 

Status report

Dunn did not travel to San Jose for Game 5, according to coach Craig Berube. … Blais, who did not return after blocking a shot at 11:52 of the third period in Game 4, will be available to play. … Sharks coach Peter DeBoer did not have an update on Erik Karlsson, who did not play for about nine minutes in the third period but was on the ice for the final 1:55 of regulation in Game 4. Karlsson missed 27 of San Jose's final 33 games in the regular season because of a groin injury. 

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