The win in St. Louis last night was great ... if you’re a Sharks fan. The real story of the night is the controversial no call on the hand pass that led to the overtime winning goal. After years and years of watching the Sharks fall to strange bounces and missed calls, the hockey gods appear to be smiling on team teal. Knock on wood.
Continue to make your sacrifices as needed.
The Sharks’ 5-4 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues came courtesy of Erik Karlsson, who until last night had a grand total of zero goals not just in this postseason, but in this calendar year. He scored two last night, including the overtime winner.
Here’s the issue:
Timo Meier did everything he could to get the puck in front of the net — including swatting at it with his hand.
It ended up on the stick of Gustav Nyquist who tossed it over to Erik Karlsson, who was able to shoot it past Jordan Binnington.
The referees huddled briefly to talk about whether or not there was a hand pass. None of them saw it. It was not a reviewable play, as it was a hand pass between teammates, not a hand pass that went into the net. Despite the outrage from the Blues, the Sharks won 5-4.
After the game, Sharks’ captain Joe Pavelski said it best, “Yeah, you know what, there’s a few calls you’re going to get ’em; you’re not going to get certain ones. I know everyone keeps talking about the hand pass, so there must have been something there, but at the end of the day, there were calls that can go both ways. That’s the playoffs. There’s adversity, you always have to adjust and handle it and keep your cool.”
“At times, we’ve done a great job with it and at times we could be better,” continued Pavelski. “It’s always just a lesson. At the end of the night, it’s all about the wins and losses. If you get the extra call, great, if not, you really have to just keep playing because, they’re not trying to screw anybody, they really aren’t. They’re good guys.”
Okay, so how did we get here? Spoiler alert, Mr. Clutch came through again when it counted.
The Blues started out firing on all cylinders, something you would expect for the team at home after two games on the road. Then the Sharks battled back (that would be the two goals in the first period), and then the Blues really took over until that final minute of the third period.
The Sharks scored almost all of their goals in tight on Binnington. Most of those goals came on rebounds, which may be what they need to do to beat Binnington throughout this series.
Meanwhile, looking at Martin Jones, it’s not pretty. The second period was crap for him. All of those goals came during the second and they came from all over the ice. I will say a few of them deflected before they beat him, but it was a tough night. Give Jones credit though, because he showed up in the third period and helped force overtime.
Watching the first, I couldn’t help but notice how similar a game St. Louis was playing to the Sharks’ game. There were large portions where the Blues played that game better and it will be interesting to see how the Sharks respond in Game 4.
Heading into the game, there was some question about Head Coach Pete DeBoer’s decision to put Micheal Haley in the lineup in place of Marcus Sorensen. Haley made an impact on the first goal of the game.
Haley went in on the forecheck and with the help of Joonas Donskoi, sandwiched Joel Edmundson behind the net. Edmundson played the puck up the boards, where Erik Karlsson picked it up. Donskoi and Haley went to the front of the net, disrupting Binnington enough for Erik Karlsson’s shot from the point to get through and open scoring.
With Sorensen out, Melker Karlsson moved up to the third line alongside Joe Thornton and Kevin Labanc. That move also paid off for DeBoer when Thornton scored his first goal of the game.
Thornton went in on the forecheck and helped get the puck up to the point. He circled around to the front of the net and was right there when a puck shot by Marc-Edouard Vlasic was blocked by Robert Bortuzzo. It bounced right to Thornton, who easily put it in to make it 2-0. Melker Karlsson didn’t get the assist, but he was in on the forecheck first making it all happen.
Toward the end of the period, Blues’ defenseman Vince Dunn took a puck off his chin. He had to be helped off the ice and was practically carried to the locker room by the team’s trainers. He did not return and is questionable for Game 4. Hopefully he’s okay.
The second period was when things started to go south for the Sharks. A shot from Erik Karlsson missed the net and rimmed around the boards. It went straight to a Blues’ player and they were off to the races.
Ivan Barbashev drove the net and with Erik Karlsson on him. Barbashev passed the puck through Brenden Dillon and onto the stick of Alex Steen, who beat Jones to cut the Sharks’ lead in half.
It was a goal that should have swung the momentum, but Jumbo wasn’t having any of that. Before the arena announcer could finish with the scoring summary for the Blues, Thornton scored his second of the night, just 18 seconds after the Blues’ goal.
Binnington stopped the initial Labanc shot. The rebound went behind the net before bouncing out toward the front where Jumbo was driving the net. A nifty kick of the puck up to his stick and Thornton tapped the puck in before Binnington could square up.
This is the first time in Thornton’s NHL history that he’s ever scored two goals in a single playoff game.
But the Blues didn’t let up.
Vladimir Tarasenko picked the puck up at his own blueline and then just got his legs moving. Justin Braun tried to slide across to disrupt the shot. It didn’t work. Tarasenko beat Braun and Jones. 3-2, Sharks.
This is when there was a missed call that some would say it swung the momentum in favor of the Blues.
David Perron put the puck out of play in his own zone, a two-minute penalty if ever there was one. The referees huddled, but didn’t see it.
There’s no replay here, either.
Just a few minutes later, Perron scored to tie up the game.
Perron was all alone in the faceoff circle when the puck ended up on his stick. Logan Couture slid across to try and block the shot, but he missed and so did Jones.
All tied up at three.
But the Blues weren’t done yet. They kept coming at the Sharks in waves and Jones was forced to make some strong saves to keep his team in it. Then on one of the chances, Brent Burns was called for hooking. The Blues scored on the ensuing power play.
Once again, it was Perron, this time from just above the faceoff circle. The Sharks went into the second period with a 2-0 lead. They left the period trailing 4-3.
At the top of the third, DeBoer started his line blender, hoping to get something going. It didn’t seem work.
Jones was the best player for the Sharks in the third, making save after save as the Blues tried to put the game away.
There was one more controversial play. Braun was hit in the head by Sammy Blais and it happened right in front of the referee. No call and luckily Braun looks okay.
Around the two-minute mark of the third, Jones vacated the net and the Sharks tried to tie it. The Blues had a few chances at the empty net, but didn’t capitalize.
For the Sharks, Couture came through again.
Mr. Clutch picked up a puck in the crease and slid it off of Binnington’s pad and into the net. It was his 14th goal of the playoffs, that’s as many goals as Pavelski had in the entire 2016 playoffs. Couture leads the league in playoff points and playoff goals.
The game was sent to overtime where the Sharks won on that controversial no call. I won’t go back over it. Suffice to say, the Sharks now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.
Game 4 is on Thursday at 5 p.m. in St. Louis.