The St. Louis Blues have not been all that comfortable with the comforts of home. Thus, Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals took on a large importance to show the Blues could win at home.
The St. Louis Blues came out of the gates and did what they needed to do at the beginning of Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. The Blues had jump, energy and physicality.
Unfortunately, that only lasted the first 10 minutes. St. Louis took a foolish offensive zone penalty around that time and though they killed it off, they killed their momentum in the process.
The Sharks would get the first goal of the night not long after that, putting one up high on a screened goaltender. St. Louis tried to keep things calm following that goal.
Instead, the game got loose, which is almost never good for the Blues. St. Louis got into scramble mode and the Sharks picked up a second goal around three minutes after their first and went into the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
Craig Berube either said something or made an adjustment in the break because the Blues were a different team in the second period. Less than 90 seconds into the middle frame, the Blues sliced the lead in half with a fourth-line goal.
The Sharks scored almost immediately after, before they could even announce the goal. That could have crushed the Blues. Instead, they fired back and scored the next three goals.
The Blues went into the second break up 4-3. They also finally broke their power play drought by finally shooting the puck.
Sadly, the Blues could not hold on at the end. They continue to grip the stick too hard when the opponent’s net is empty. San Jose tied it up because the Blues could not get out of their own zone.
How the game ended was just unacceptable from a league standpoint. Hopefully the NHL is embarrassed by their officials during this playoff season because they have literally cost teams games.
Cons: Stupid Penalties
As much as we love David Perron for his offense, but he does some really dumb things in the offensive zone when he does not have the puck. The penalty called on Frenchie was a little weak, but it was also unnecessary.
Perron got caught for tripping shortly after a faceoff in the attacking zone. Picking up boneheaded penalties in the offensive zone has almost always been a habit for Perron.
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As mentioned above, the Blues were able to kill off the penalty, so it should be no big deal right? Wrong.
The Blues lost any and all momentum after that. St. Louis was not playing perfectly to begin with, but at least they had jump and were getting into the offensive zone.
After killing that penalty, it was all Sharks in the latter half of the first period. That might not rest completely on Perron’s shoulders, but he has to take some of the blame.
Perron was also very fortunate to not get called for a penalty in the second period. Perron fired the puck and it went out of play. Despite the protests of the Sharks players, the referees did not call a delay of game. The Blues managed to rattle off several goals after that. It almost did not happen due to Perron’s carelessness.
Pros: Second Period
Historically, at least recently, the second period has been the worst for the Blues. They seem to shrink from the challenge of having a longer skate for line changes.
In this period, it was the opposite. The Blues rose to the challenge and outscored San Jose 4-1 in that period alone.
The Blues set the tone early, with Alexander Steen scoring the goal on an odd-man rush. Though San Jose reclaimed their two goal lead moments later, the Blues were not to be outdone in that period.
St. Louis kept their foot on the gas and did not let up on the pressure they were getting against the Sharks. The Blues were getting the puck out of their zone quickly and that sprung a breakout for Vladimir Tarasenko who did what all Blues shooters should do and go high glove on Martin Jones.
David Perron scored the next two for the Blues as they claimed a 4-3 lead through two periods of play. Adding to the joy of Perron’s goals was scoring on the power play for once.
Perron did what the Blues need to do and just fire one in on goal. Normally it would have been an easy save, but it went off the inside of the defender’s leg and beat Jones cleanly.
It was a fantastic period of play. The building was rocking and the team could feel all that energy. The only downfall was the second period was not the finish since the Blues were denied several insurance goal chances in the third.
Cons: Empty Net Scenarios
If there is a stat kept on this, it is not readily available to the public. That said, the St. Louis Blues have to be one of the worst teams in the league when it comes to holding a lead when the other team has their goaltender pulled.
St. Louis just falls into the pitfall of trying to kill off a penalty because they ahve one fewer man than their opponent. That cannot be your mentality because you still have five skaters on the ice.
The Blues tend to back off and allow too much room. That was not necessarily the case against the Sharks in this game, but the Blues had their chances.
St. Louis should have finished off the game with a Jaden Schwartz empty netter, but it hit the outside of the goal. They never showed a replay, so maybe it was deflected, but that is just something you have to finish off somehow.
Instead, it gave the Sharks life and they capitalized. They won a faceoff, which is something the Blues improved in this game, but lost a key one here.
Then they managed to keep the puck alive long enough for it to slide in.
Making matters worse, the faceoff came after Alex Pietrangelo iced the puck after the Blues had been given a respite due to a Sharks timeout. Pietrangelo had other options, but tried to lift it high up near the scoreboard and it went the length instead.
The Blues were semi-decent during that 90 second portion, but it just furthers this belief that they fold when the net is empty down the ice.
Cons: Garbage Officiating
I will do all I can to keep this professional, but I am sick and tired of NHL officiating. Hockey has to be the hardest sport in the world to call and I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, but this game falls to the officials as far as the overtime.
Some fans will say the game should never have gone to overtime and they would not be wrong. However, this game should not have ended when it did.
The Sharks got away with a clear hand pass that led directly to the winning goal. It was not as though the call was missed and there was over a minute of zone time. The hand pass went directly to the player that set up Erik Karlsson goal.
What really burns my backside is that San Jose should not even be in the conference finals. They are as talented a team as anyone, but they should have lost to Vegas. They could have lost to Colorado.
The officials have literally handed them a game in every single playoff series. They made up a call for a five minute major that handed them the series against the Golden Knights. No official saw that play in real time and they made something up since there was blood involved.
Technically, they got a replay right against Colorado, but the Avs player was basically off the ice and if it were a too many men scenario, that is considered a buffer zone. Instead, a tying goal was denied because of a technicality.
Then, in the Blues game, apparently you cannot make up a call because they did not see it, even though their brothers in arms did so a few series back. How in the world you do not see him swat at the puck and see the puck change direction is beyond me.
The fact that is not reviewable is inexcusable. When these things affect the end of games, it needs to be able to be double checked. I’m sure the league will issue another apology, but who gives a crap.
If nothing else, they stole a win from San Jose. The Sharks played well. The Blue were the better team in my eyes, but the Sharks were tough and earned much in that game. They won’t complain about the win, but they did not earn the win.
This game is so hard to focus on due to the ending.
The Blues should have won this thing. Unfortunately, they have themselves and the officials to blame.
The Blues dominated the second and third periods but could not find a way to close things out. They got several quality chances in the third period, but did not bury them.
You cannot give a team like the Sharks any hope. You have to find a way to stamp it out and crush their spirit. Instead, the Blues left the door open and the Sharks forced it open.
Why in the world the Blues are so terrible when the opponent’s net is empty is beyond me. Whether they get flat-footed or nervous or whatever, it is just beyond belief how ineffective they are at scoring empty net goals.
How the officials – four officials who have the power to blow a hand pass down – missed it is beyond me as well. We have seen penalties awarded when nobody saw a thing, but when you could at least figure there was something fishy here, nobody even tries to get the call right.
I love this league and this sport so much, but the consistency of the officiating is horrendous. This was a call that could easily have been made right and because we are afraid to slow the game down for an instance that might happen twice in an entire year, a team gets cost a playoff decision.
As a fan, I am gutted by this result. The Blues better not blame the officials, despite their horrendous mistake, because they have to refocus and figure out how not to get scored on.
St. Louis has dominated when they are at their best. They have to be at their best every moment now.