Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL playoffs. The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-0 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final and are one win from reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970.
What We Learned
Here are some takeaways from Game 5 of the Western Conference Final:
Blues fourth line at it again
Another day, another game in which the Blues' fourth line of Ivan Barbashev, Oskar Sundqvist and Alex Steen makes an immediate impact. On Sunday, Sundqvist, off an errant pass between Sharks defensemen Erik Karlsson and Brenden Dillon, scored 5:50 into the first period to give the Blues a 1-0 lead. Sundqvist has seven points (four goals, three assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Steen has four points (two goals, two assists) and Barbashev, who scored 35 seconds into Game 4, has four points (goal, three assists). The steady contributions from that line show how much depth the Blues have.
Video: STL@SJS, Gm5: Sundqvist cranks home heavy slap shot
Tarasenko stays hot for Blues
Forward Vladimir Tarasenko has been solid against the Sharks, and he added to his production with a goal and two assists in Game 5. Tarasenko's seventh goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a wicked penalty shot, gave the Blues a 3-0 lead at 6:53 of the second period. Of Tarasenko's 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in the playoffs, seven (two goals, five assists) have come against the Sharks. He has at least one point in each of the five games.
Video: STL@SJS, Gm5: Tarasenko snipes goal on penalty shot
Dismal home showing for Sharks
The Sharks were 7-3 at SAP Center entering Game 5. And though they liked their first period, they had nothing to show for it and quickly lost steam. Their second period was disappointing, when the Blues outshot them 20-6 and took a 3-0 lead. A penalty-laden third period (eight) ended any chance the Sharks had of getting back into the game. The performance left their usually boisterous crowd rather quiet over the final 40 minutes.
No offense for Sharks
Evander Kane hit the goal post twice, one 12 seconds in and the other a tip of defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic's shot 2:44 into the second period. Those were probably the Sharks' best scoring opportunities of the game. Otherwise, they didn't do nearly enough against to generate offense. Credit the Blues; they're good at bottling things up and making sure goalie Jordan Binnington doesn't deal with a lot of traffic near his crease. But the Sharks, who have one goal in their past two games, aren't doing enough to rattle Binnington.
Video: Jon Morosi and Dan Rusanowsky wrap up SJS-STL Game 5
-- The Blues are one win away from the Cup Final, but this is already arguably their best run even in the playoffs, writes Nicholas J. Cotsonika
-- The Sharks fall flat at home and sustain injuries to key players in a rough Game 5 loss, writes Tracey Myers
-- Jayden Schwartz and Vladamir Tarasenko come up big for the Blues to put them one win from Final, writes Louie Korac.
-- Injuries to Erik Karlsson and Joe Pavelski hurt the Sharks in Game 5, writes Shawn P. Roarke
-- Charlie Coyle knew he had a chance to win the Stanley Cup when he was traded to the Boston Bruins, writes Amalie Benjamin
-- The Bruins are doing double duty to prepare for either the Sharks or Blues in the Cup Final, writes Matt Kalman
-- The Bruins don't even want to talk to goalie Tuukka Rask because he's playing so well, writes Dan Rosen.