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Sharks eliminated from playoffs because of injuries, lack of offense

Absence of key players, slow starts took toll in Western Conference Final loss to Blues

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

The San Jose Sharks were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the St. Louis Blues with a 5-1 loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final at Enterprise Center on Tuesday.

The Sharks led the best-of-7 series 2-1 after a 5-4 overtime victory in Game 3, but were outscored 12-2 in losing the next three games.

Here are 5 reasons the Sharks were eliminated:

 

1. Injuries to key players

Forwards Tomas Hertl and Joe Pavelski and defenseman Erik Karlsson did not play in Game 6 after each was injured in Game 5. Hertl was second on the Sharks with 10 goals in the playoffs and Karlsson was tied for second with 16 points (two goals, 14 assists).

Pavelski, who missed six games in the second round against the Colorado Avalanche, was not close to returning, and Karlsson was not playing at 100 percent when he was in the lineup.

"Tough without some key guys," goalie Martin Jones said. "We've been pretty banged up for a while now, as I'm sure everybody is. But yeah, it's tough."

 

2. Lack of offense

The Sharks scored two goals in the final three games of the series after scoring 13 in the first three. Forward Logan Couture had five goals in the series but none in the final three games. Hertl had one goal in the five games he played. Forward Evander Kane, who scored 30 goals during the regular season, had none against the Blues and two in San Jose's 20 playoff games.

Video: SJS@STL, Gm6: Binnington stones Kane with strong save

"We didn't score too many goals," Couture said. "It's pretty obvious you're not going to win scoring zero, then one on most nights. We dried up offensively. They played hard, and we didn't get enough around their goaltender."

 

3. Special-teams struggles

The Sharks allowed two power-play goals on two opportunities in Game 6 and surrendered five on 15 chances in Games 3-6. Before that, they had killed 32 of 34 penalties in their previous 11 games and were 6-for-6 in the first two games against the Blues.

San Jose also struggled on the power play against St. Louis, finishing 2-for-13.

"We didn't have as many opportunities, especially in the last three games," Kane said of the power play. "At the same time, I don't know if the urgency was there necessarily. They don't give you much. They take away a lot of those seam passes. We just didn't get enough pucks on goal."

 

4. Inconsistency

The Sharks did not win consecutive games in the same series after taking Games 5, 6 and 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round. They were unable to expand on their series leads of 1-0 and 2-1 against the Blues.

Video: Blues oust Sharks in six, advance to Cup Final

"I think that's part of what makes it even harder and more frustrating and more crushing; we really felt we had a great chance, and they don't come often," defenseman Brent Burns said. "It's a lot of work for a long time, and a lot of luck and a lot of magic goes into going on a run like this. You never know. I think that's what makes it so tough."

 

5. Slow starts costly

The Sharks spent the final three games against the Blues playing catch-up. They trailed 35 seconds into Game 4 (2-1 loss), 5:50 into Game 5 (5-0 loss) and 1:32 into Game 6 (5-1 loss). St. Louis also scored 2:34 into the first period of Game 2 and went on to win 4-2.

San Jose was 2-0 when scoring first against the Blues but 0-4 when allowing the first goal. The Sharks allowed the first goal in 12 of their 20 postseason games, going 3-9 when playing from behind. They were 7-1 when scoring first.

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