The St. Louis Blues have struggled in their home arena during the playoffs, but as they came out strong at the beginning of the game, it looked like perhaps they had brought with them the attitude they had in Game 4. In one of those “you can’t make this up” moments – the score in Game 5 mimicked that of Game 4—the visiting team won the game with 6 goals over the home team’s 3.
The San Jose Sharks got the scoring going when Marc-Edouard Vlasic with a strong shot from the left point. Jake Allen, who was making his second start of the series after having gone in during Game 3, was slightly screened but this would be one of the easier shots he would face and perhaps one he should have stopped. The Blues managed to tie things up at 7:05 of the first as Jaden Schwartz got his fourth goal of the postseason—the result of a dump and chase in which the Blues worked it hard and won some board battles to give Schwartz the opportunity.
“Our first touch has got to be better. We’re trying to make a play that’s not there,” Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said during the first period. “They’re putting a lot of pressure on us. We’ve just got to make sure it’s a better territorial play and we’ll be alright.”
Going into the first intermission his Blues were up 2-1 and the tempers had increased, as there was some pushing and shoving and a little extra stick work after the horn.
The Sharks got the first power play of the game just 4:37 into the second and Joel Ward, acquired by the Sharks in the offseason, would tie things up. His goal silenced the raucous crowd for the first of many times at the Scottrade Center.
Just a short time later the Blues would get their first power play of the game and Robby Fabbri put the Blues back up 3-2. The rookie Fabbri has been a strong asset for the Blues. In the 19 postseason games he’s played, he has four goals and 11 assists for 15 points. His play throughout Game 5 was strong.
And while the rookie brought his game, one star continued to be mysteriously absent on the score sheet–Vladimir Tarasenko. His 18:44 TOI was third of all Blues’ forwards, but he only had one shot on goal. His indecision in Game 5 made him easy to defend against.
With 1:27 remaining in the middle frame, Sharks’ Joe Pavelski would tie the game with a shot from the slot, and Blues’ coach Hitchcock indicated after the game that it was this goal that he felt killed his team. Pavelski would get his second of the game, putting his Sharks up 4-3, a mere 16 seconds into the third period.
Despite good effort, the Blues’ mistakes were costly and as the clock clicked down toward the last minute, Allen was pulled for the additional attacker, but the Sharks continued to have other ideas. Chris Tierney worked hard, first having the puck taken from him and then fighting to get it back. His pass to Joe Thornton redirected the attention of the Blues while Tierney remained behind Allen’s vacated net. Thornton passed it back to him and he was able to wrap it around and slip it in, giving the Sharks a two-goal lead.
Allen went back in until the next faceoff and then despite Blues Paul Stastny winning the draw, the Sharks got control of the puck and Ward would put it through the legs of Alexander Steen and into the empty net to get his second of the game and ensure that the Sharks would return to California leading the series 3-2.
The Sharks will host the Blues on Wednesday at the SAP Arena—better known as the Shark Tank—for Game 6. For the Sharks their win against the Blues was a franchise-high eleventh playoff game. They will need to focus hard on not getting ahead of themselves, looking at the Stanley Cup Finals, or they could find themselves golfing instead of playing more hockey.