5 Keys: Sharks at Blues, Game 3


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Best-of-7 series tied 1-1

The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues will each try to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Final when they play Game 3 at Enterprise Center on Wednesday.

Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo scored the winning goal 16:34 into the second period when the Blues defeated the Sharks 4-2 in Game 2 on Monday.

The Sharks are 11-7 in a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series when tied 1-1 and 6-0 after splitting the first two games at home. The Blues are 12-19 in series that were tied 1-1 (4-8 when starting on the road).

Here are 5 keys to Game 3:


1. Special teams

The Sharks are 11-for-60 (18.3 percent) on the power play during the playoffs but 2-for-15 (13.3 percent) in their past five games. It’s also been frustrating for the Blues, who are 7-for-47 (14.9 percent) and 1-for-26 in their past eight games.

“When we have a chance to shoot the puck, we have to shoot it,” Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly said. “They’re pressuring so hard, we’re getting caught on our heels a bit. Instead, I think we’ve got to be a little more aggressive and just be shooting it. From there, that’s when the plays will come out.”

The penalty kill has been strong for San Jose (48-for-58, 82.8 percent). St. Louis is 26-for-34 (76.5 percent) while shorthanded.

Video: Blues, Sharks do battle while mic’d up in WCF Game 2


2. Couture needs help

Logan Couture hasn’t slowed down in the playoffs. He scored twice in Game 2, has 19 points (13 goals, six assists) in 16 games and is the 11th active NHL player with 100 points (47 goals, 53 assists) in the postseason.

But the Sharks need more players to follow his lead, particularly their depth forwards, so they might change their third and fourth lines to get a spark in Game 3. Melker Karlsson was moved from the fourth to the third line with Joe Thornton and Kevin Labanc at the morning skate. Micheal Haley, a healthy scratch the past three games, was on the fourth line with Barclay Goodrow and Joonas Donskoi.


3. Neutralizing Hertl line

O’Reilly, Sammy Blais and David Perron have fared well against Evander Kane, Tomas Hertl and Joe Pavelski. In two games against St. Louis, Pavelski has two points (one goal, one assist), Kane one assist and Hertl no points.

The Blues must continue to keep pressure on the Sharks’ second line.

“It’s a very good line, a lot of speed, smart, they’re tough to play against,” O’Reilly said. “I thought we’ve done a good job. We’re skating with them and making them play a 200-foot game by putting pucks behind them. It kind of wears them down. It’s the same mentality going into tonight. We have to do the little things right, make sure there are no casual shifts.”


4. Road woes

As good as the Sharks have been at home (7-3) they’re 2-4 on the road in the playoffs while being outscored 21-12.

Sharks coach Peter Deboer is confident they can build off the Game 2 loss in San Jose. The Blues are 3-4 on home ice.

“I think our intentions were good in Game 2,” he said. “I thought it was one of the better Game 2s we’ve played in the playoffs so far. Give them credit. They played a good game, had some saves at the right time, some timely goals. But we didn’t get it done, so now we have to come in here and find a way to win a game.”

Video: Blues even series at one thanks to their defensemen


5. Tarasenko ready to break out?

Vladimir Tarasenko has scored one goal in his past eight games, which was in Game 4 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Dallas Stars. But Blues coach Craig Berube liked what Tarasenko brought in Game 2, when he had six shots on goal and assisted on Jaden Schwartz‘s first-period goal.

“I thought his game was a lot better, he moved better,” Berube said. “I thought he was involved more. That line got a goal there early in the game, which was key. I get that you look at the goals and the points and stuff like that, but they’re doing a lot of other things.”


Sharks projected lineup

Timo Meier — Logan Couture — Gustav Nyquist

Evander Kane — Tomas Hertl — Joe Pavelski 

Melker Karlsson — Joe Thornton — Kevin Labanc

Joonas Donskoi — Barclay Goodrow — Micheal Haley

Marc-Edouard VlasicBrent Burns

Brenden DillonErik Karlsson

Joakim RyanJustin Braun

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Marcus Sorensen, Dylan Gambrell, Tim Heed, Lukas Radil, Radim Simek, Antti Suomela

Injured: None


Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz — Brayden Schenn — Vladimir Tarasenko

Sammy Blais — Ryan O’Reilly — David Perron

Pat MaroonTyler BozakRobert Thomas

Ivan BarbashevOskar SundqvistAlexander Steen

Joel EdmundsonAlex Pietrangelo

Jay BouwmeesterColton Parayko

Vince Dunn — Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

Scratched: Robby Fabbri, Carl Gunnarsson, Michael Del Zotto, Zach Sanford, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn, Ville Husso

Injured: None


Status report

DeBoer would not confirm that morning skate lines will be how the Sharks start the game. … Thomas is expected to play after taking a maintenance day.

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