GAME: St. Louis Blues at San Jose Sharks.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinals; Sharks lead 3-1.
TIME: Thursday, 10 p.m. EDT.
A 3-1 series lead is far from safe in the NHL playoffs.
The St. Louis Blues know it, but their circumstances remain daunting as they
try to stave off elimination in Game 5 against a confident San Jose Sharks
St. Louis, coming off a 4-3 loss in Game 4 on Tuesday, has seen firsthand
what it takes to overcome that deficit.
The Blues blew a 3-1 lead in the first round against the Vancouver Canucks
last spring. St. Louis, though, has rallied from a 3-1 deficit only twice in 12
tries - the last time in 1999.
Plus, the Blues are facing a team that is receiving contributions from every
After a strong performance in San Jose's 4-1 loss in Game 3 on Monday,
Alexander Korolyuk helped the Sharks bounce back and regain control of the
series. Korolyuk, who scored 19 goals during the regular season, got his first
two goals of the postseason in Tuesday's victory.
Among Korolyuk's Game 3 contributions was a first-period hip check that
knocked Blues forward Ryan Johnson out of that contest, as well as Game 4.
Korolyuk moved up to the first line toward the end of Game 3.
"It's just kind of a message to the rest of the team that if you do the
little things well and play like a warrior, you'll end up on top," Sharks
coach Ron Wilson said.
Unsung Scott Thornton also got his first two goals of the playoffs for San
Jose, the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
Thornton had only six goals, a career high, and 21 points during the regular
season. He had never scored in 22 career postseason games before beating Osgood
in the first and second periods.
Sharks center Alyn McCauley missed his third straight game Tuesday with an
apparent shoulder injury. His status for Thursday is uncertain.
After losing the first two games, the Blues outshot the Sharks 25-8 in the
first two periods en route to a 4-1 victory in Game 3. The Sharks, though,
regained control of the series in the second period Tuesday, spending most of
the 20 minutes in the Blues' end and outshooting them 12-5 while scoring twice
to break a 1-1 tie.
"It was a frustrating period," Blues forward Doug Weight said. "It was
there to be won. A couple of lapses and we paid for them."
The Blues scored twice in the third period, but couldn't overcome a pair of
Ineffectiveness on the power play helped put St. Louis in a hole. The
Sharks' penalty killers made it difficult for the Blues to set up with the man
advantage, running their streak to 18 straight kills before Doug Weight's
scored with 4:53 left. That cut San Jose's lead to 4-3.
"Our special teams have done the job all year and we have to continue to do
it," Sharks center Mike Ricci said. "Our power play was huge tonight and the
PKs were pretty tough also."
Mike Danton and Pavol Demitra also scored for the Blues. Demitra's goal was
his first of the series, and Danton scored for the first time since Feb. 10 to
end a 17-game drought.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Blues - 91 points; 7th seed. Sharks - 104 points; 2nd
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Mike Sillinger, 3 goals and 4 points; Keith
Tkachuk, Christian Backman and Petr Cajanek, 2 assists; Chris Pronger, 16 PIM.
Sharks - Patrick Marleau, 3 goals; Vincent Damphousse, 3 assists; four with 3
points; four with 6 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Blues - Power play: 5.3 percent (1 for 19). Penalty
killing: 88.9 percent (24 for 27). Sharks - Power play: 11.1 percent (3 for
27). Penalty killing: 94.7 percent (18 for 19).
GOALTENDERS: Blues - Chris Osgood (1-3, 2.36 GAA); Reinhard Davis (0-0,
0.00). Sharks - Evgeni Nabokov (3-1, 1, 1.69); Vesa Toskala (no appearances).