Behind another stellar performance from Martin Jones and their top two lines, the San Jose Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-0 to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals. This is the first time in franchise history that San Jose has ever held a series lead in the WCF and the Sharks are just two wins away from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.
Tomas Hertl opened up the scoring for the Sharks late in the first period at 15:53 off a St. Louis turnover in the neutral zone. An attempted clear by Colton Parayko hit Joe Thornton, who got the puck up to Pavelski. Pavelski found Hertl cutting toward the net on the far side and Hertl's one-timer would beat Brian Elliot in the top right corner of the net to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. The goal was Hertl's fourth of the playoffs.
Like Hertl, Joonas Donskoi scored his fourth goal of the postseason at 11:44 in the second period, putting the Blues in a two goal deficit. With the Blues attacking in San Jose's zone, Donskoi got his stick in the passing lane to free the puck out of the zone and to Logan Couture. Cooch started an odd-man rush with Marleau down the ice, but waited for Donskoi to join them and dropped the puck off to him at the top of St. Louis' zone. The play went full circle for Donskoi, as his shot rocketed past Elliot and doubled San Jose's lead.
Couture would be sent to the penalty box later in the period after being whistled for high-sticking, putting the Blues on the powerplay. Like they did over and over on Tuesday night, the Sharks successfully killed St. Louis' man-advantage and went into intermission holding a 2-0 lead.
Hertl would add another goal at 6:09 in the third period, ending Elliot's night in goal as Jake Allen came in to take over goaltending duties. Thornton fed Hertl with a gorgeous saucer pass at the goal line behind the net. Hertl wrapped around the left side, created space, and got the puck through Elliot's five hole, extending the lead to 3-0.
Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock took a page out of the "Patrick Roy School of Coaching" and pulled Allen with 5:31 left in regulation in hopes of getting his team back into the game. It didn't work. San Jose didn't find the empty net but they did keep the shutout intact as the final horn sounded.
Although the Blues only tested Jones with 22 shots, he was flawless for the second straight game and recorded his third shutout in the 2016 Playoffs. This was the first time in Sharks history that a goalie recorded back-to-back shutouts in the playoffs. All three shutouts have come in the past four games for San Jose and Jones, the only member of the team with a Stanley Cup ring, has quietly put the Sharks in a great position to make their first ever Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
Sharks goals (assists): Tomas Hertl (Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton), Joonas Donskoi (Logan Couture), Tomas Hertl (Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski)