Blues beat Sharks 3-1 to win series
Saturday, April 21, 2012
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jamie Langenbrunner and David Perron scored in a 45-second span in the third period, and St. Louis Blues woke up in time to put away the San Jose Sharks 3-1 and wrap up the first-round series in five games Saturday night.
Joe Thornton scored in the final minute of the second period for San Jose, and the Sharks were seemingly in control before the flurry that ended their season.
Brian Elliott made 26 saves, and Andy McDonald ended all doubt with an empty-net goal in the final minute. St. Louis, the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, won a playoff series for the first time in a decade against a franchise that reached the conference finals the previous two years. Before this series, St. Louis hadn’t won a playoff game in eight years.
The Blues seemed a step slow most of the way in front of a sellout crowd waving white rally towels before tying it with their checking line, and getting the go-ahead goal from their top line. They were the first team to come from behind after two periods to win in the series.
The lightning strike rally began when Antti Niemi couldn’t handle Scott Nichol’s bouncing shot from just across the blue line and Langenbrunner tapped it home at 11:16, the first point of the series for both Nichol and Langenbrunner.
Perron deflected Alex Pietrangelo’s floater from the point on the next shot, and Elliott made the lead stand with a handful of nice saves the rest of the way. The Blues had to kill off a delay-of-game penalty on McDonald in the closing minutes.
The Blues were the NHL’s best home team with a franchise-record 30 wins and just six regulation losses, and won two at home and two on the road against the Sharks. Counting the regular season, they were 8-1 against San Jose.
Thornton’s second goal of the series gave the Sharks their second lead of the series with 39 seconds to go in the second. The San Jose captain converted a pass from Daniel Winnik and beat Elliott between the legs from the left side of the net for his fifth point of the series, giving him a hand in his team’s last five goals.
Both teams appeared to be on the defensive much of the first two periods, with few big hits aside from an entertaining fight between the Blues’ Chris Stewart and Tommy Wingels in the second. There was no sustained pressure from either side and few hallmark saves before the Sharks finally capitalized when Perron was unable to clear the puck.
Notes: Thornton had 42 of his team-leading 77 points on the road during the regular season. He tied for first in the NHL in road points. ... This was the first time in the series the team scoring first didn’t win.
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