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2012 WCQF Game 5 - Sharks @ Blues - April 21, 2012

by Eric Lindquist / San Jose Sharks


2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals - Game 5
#7 San Jose Sharks at #2 St. Louis Blues
4:30 PM (Pacific) - Scottrade Center - St. Louis, MO
TV: CSN California HD  |  RADIO: KFOX 98.5/102.1 FM

Read the GAME DAY BLOG

STORYLINES

The San Jose Sharks face the #2 seed St. Louis Blues in Game 5 in the best of seven Western Conference First Round Stanley Cup Playoffs in St. Louis on Saturday. This is the 28th playoff series in franchise history for the Sharks (13-14) and the 4th playoff series meeting vs. the St. Louis Blues.

Previous Playoff Series vs. the Blues (all Quarterfinals series in the Western Conference)
2003-04 – the #2 seed San Jose Sharks defeat the #7 seed St. Louis Blues 4-1
2000-01 – the #4 seed St. Louis Blues defeat the #5 seed San Jose Sharks 4-3
1999-00 – the #8 seed San Jose Sharks defeat the #1 seed St. Louis Blues 4-3

RECAP GAME 4
The St. Louis Blues took Game 4 and a 3-1 series lead with a 2-1 victory in San Jose on Thursday night.

Joe Thornton (1st) scored late for the Sharks but it wasn’t enough as San Jose dropped their third straight playoff game to the Blues.

B.J. Crombeen (1st) scored midway through the first period and Andy McDonald (3rd) struck on the power play with eight minutes left in the third period for the eventual game winner.
Goaltender Brian Elliott made 24 saves for the victory while Antti Niemi was solid with 22 saves in net for the Sharks.

MATCH-UPS TO WATCH

“We put ourselves in a corner and we need to play ourselves back.” – Joe Thornton after the Game 4 loss in San Jose

The Sharks face a do-or-die Game 5 in St. Louis tonight and must generate more scoring chances vs. Brian Elliott and the Blues. San Jose will need to find a way to try to open up Game 5 as both teams combined for just 49 shots on goal in Game 4, which favors the style of the Blues.

San Jose scored just seven goals in the series. Three of which have come late in the game when the Sharks were trailing by at least two goals. The offense must come alive in Game 5 if the series is to continue for the Sharks.

THE BIG THREE
The Sharks top line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Pavelski combined for 79 goals in the regular season, but have just a single goal through the first four games (Thornton late in Game 4). Coach McLellan split the threesome up in Game 4, but the Sharks still struggled to generate offense against the stingy St. Louis defense.

NEW LINES TO STAY THE SAME?
Coach McLellan gave a new look during Game 4 in the 2-1 loss to the Blues.

Couture - Thornton - Pavelski
Clowe - Marleau - Havlat
Winnik - Handzus - Mitchell
Winchester - Desjardins - Wingels

The Sharks only generated 25 shots on goal in Game 4 – the Blues 24. It should be interesting to see if San Jose sticks with the Game 5 lineup in a do or die situation in St. Louis.

STATUS QUO?
Ken Hitchcock inserted Chris Stewart back in the lineup for Game 3 after he sat in Game 2. No lineup changes expected in Game 5 after the morning skate.

SPECIAL TEAMS
"We've scored on our power-play chances and they haven't. That's the No. 1 difference in the series." – coach Ken Hitchcock

St. Louis is 6-for-16 (37.5%) on the power play through the first four games. The Sharks just 2-for-15 (13.3%).

Defensemen Barret Jackman and Alex Pietrangelo have done an excellent job defensively on the penalty kill for the Blues. The Sharks MUST find a way to get shots through from the point, get traffic in front, and bang home any loose rebounds – if there are any to be left in front.

An early power play strike in Game 5 may go a long way to get the Sharks rolling in Game 5.

SHARK BITES

Game 5… San Jose is 12-13 all-time in Game 5’s with a 4-8 record at home all-time. Currently, the Sharks have three straight Game 5 games after winning five streak…. Time to start another streak?

When on the brink… the Sharks are 9-14 when facing elimination in their history and are 2-2 in Game 5’s when facing elimination.

Marleau Time?... Patrick Marleau has a history of scoring big goals when the Sharks are facing elimination. Marleau has the last two game winning goals for the Sharks in their last games that they have won when facing elimination, including the game winner in Game 7 vs. Detroit in San Jose at the HP Pavilion.

Time for a 1st... San Jose has never won a series when trailing 3-1 and has never forced a Game 7. The Sharks have faced a 3-1 deficit four times and went on to lose twice by a series count of 4-1 and twice more 4-2.

Keep Firing… Logan Couture leads all Sharks players with 16 shots on goal. Logan had five of the 25 shots on goal in Game 4 for the Sharks.

Stats
4 GP 4
1 W 3
3 L 1
0 OT 1
0 P 0
0.250 P% 0.750
1.75 G/G 2.75
2.75 GA/G 1.75
13.3 PP% 37.5
62.5 PK% 86.7
29.2 S/G 31.2
31.2 SA/G 29.2
48.4 FO% 51.6
Date Vis/Home Final
April 19, 2012 STL@SJS STL, 2 - 1
April 16, 2012 STL@SJS STL, 4 - 3
April 14, 2012 SJS@STL STL, 3 - 0
April 12, 2012 SJS@STL SJS, 3 - 2

BLUES NOTES

Blazing Blues… Andy McDonald is riding a four game point streak and leads the series in scoring with seven points (3-4-7). McDonald has 16 goals and 33 points in 45 career playoff games.

Shot Blockers... St. Louis blocked 26 shots in Game 4. San Jose had 16.

2002...
The Blues are trying to win their first playoff series since 2002.

25 on the way?... 24 teams have led 3-1 in a series and eventually lost. 24-out-of-229 (10.4%) The Penguins lost last year to the Lightning after going up 3-1.

INJURY REPORT

No injuries for the Sharks through four games other than the broken nose to Dominic Moore in Game 2 while Jaroslav Halak left Game 2 with an injury and is listed as day-to-day.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: DAN BOYLE

''I don't think anybody believes we're going to do it, which is fine. 'It's going to be a tough task. We all know that. It's going to be a very difficult task, but it can be done. It's not impossible.'' – Dan Boyle

BOTTOM LINE

“They're (Sharks) not going to go quietly." – Coach Ken Hitchcock.

Let’s hope Coach Hitchcock is correct! Sharks fans must give the Blues credit through the first four games. The young St. Louis team could have crumbled after giving up the late goal in the third period to Andrew Desjardins and the eventual overtime winner to Martin Havlat. But they didn’t. - and the Blues have rolled out three straight wins since.

If there is a team that can come back from a 3-1 series deficit, it is most definitely the Sharks. San Jose has been in every game of the series and only need to make a few minor adjustments to get back into the swing of things.

Watch for the Sharks to get shots through from the point and get into the kitchen area of Brian Elliott from start to finish. Have the Sharks had a lucky bounce in the series?…. can’t recall one. An early one in the first period for the Sharks would sound nice. Would it not?


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