Blues Fight Back, Even Series
The Blues were spotted a goal ninety seconds after the opening face-off and never looked back. A Vladimir Sobotka slap shot from outside the left slot found its way behind Antti Niemi, and trickled slowly into the crease in front of the goal line. In an attempt to clear the puck out of the crease, San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic swiped at the puck but fanned, causing it to ricochet into the net for a St. Louis goal.
San Jose was deflated after the own-goal, but battled back to pepper Jaroslav Halak, taking a 10-3 advantage in shots on goal at one point during the first period. Halak remained solid throughout the first and early into the second, until he was injured while making a save less than a minute into the middle period. Blues defensemen, Barrett Jackman slid into the slot in an effort to cut off a threatening San Jose forward,but could not stop his momentum, ultimately standing up and colliding into his net minder. Halak looked as tough he was going to remain on the ice, but the Blues’ training staff decided to remove Halak from the game for further evaluation in the locker room. Reminiscent of a performance in New Jersey earlier in the season, Brian Elliot entered the game in the second period and shutout the opponent in relief work. Elliot made a number of crucial saves in the second and third periods, and ultimately made seventeen saves to preserve Halak’s shutout effort.
David Backes added to the Blues’ one goal lead with just over six minutes remaining in the second period. The play started with TJ entering the zone with two San Jose defenders draped all over him. Oshie absorbed a hit outside the left face-off circle and deked twice with his patented shoulder fake. Oshie then dangled into the slot to find a wide open Backes, faking out both defenders and Antti Niemi in the process.
With the security of a two-goal lead, St. Louis played both the puck and the body aggressively in the third period. The game got chippy in the third, as Joe Pavelski and Kris Russell were involved in fisticuffs and big hits transitioned into multiple scrums following frozen pucks. The Blues added one more goal in the final minute of regulation on an Andy McDonald goal on an assist for Oshie during a power play.
More gloves were dropped after the end of the third period, as a giant scrum broke out in the San Jose zone. Roman Polak and Vladimir Sobotka were on the main card of the brawl as they took down Jason Demers and Dominic more in their respective fights. The game-ending brawl is undoubtedly telling of the tone of the remainder of the series. These two teams have developed a strong dislike for each other over the course of the opening two games. Look for the physicality and bad blood to continue in San Jose on Monday night.