Though it was perhaps a month later than once expected, the end of the Sharks’ playoff run has finally arrived. The St. Louis Blues won the series in six game with a dominating 5-1 win in Game 6.
Going into the game, the Sharks knew they would be without Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl. Joe Pavelski opted not to take warm-ups, which hopefully was the right decision for his long-term health, but it meant the Sharks were without their major stars in an elimination situation.
It wasn’t an accident; the Blues targeted all three men the entire series, and didn’t let up on the remaining Sharks’ talent in Game 6. Early in the first period, Vladimir Tarasenko punched Timo Meier in the face in front of a referee. Like the head hits throughout the first five games, there was no call against the Blues.
From the beginning, the Sharks showed signs of struggling to adapt without Pavelski, Hertl and Karlsson. They struggled to keep control of the puck when they had it, which wasn’t often. They somehow ended the first period with a slight edge in shots, but unsurprisingly down on the scoreboard 2-0. The pattern continued through the game; in the box score, the Sharks led in both shots and hits, but with a big deficit where it matters most.
The Sharks only allowed 19 shots on goal, which would have been helpful if at least one of two things had happened: 1) Martin Jones played better and/or 2) Jordan Binnington played worse. Binnington stopped 25 of 26 shots, while Jones stopped only 14 of the 18 he faced — and none of the power play shots sent against him. The Blues scored on both their power play opportunities. Even without those goals, St. Louis was in for an easy win.
18:28: The Blues score first. Joakim Ryan went deep into the Blues’ zone but his pass attempt to Marcus Sorensen fails, giving the Blues a free drive up the ice against Brent Burns. Burns did his best, but was outnumbered. Sammy Blais originally got credit, but it’s now going to David Perron.
16:01: Vladimir Tarasenko punches Timo Meier in the face away from the play. For some reason, there’s no call.
15:24: The Sharks’ third line gets the best chance so far for San Jose. Joe Thornton came within a couple feet of collecting Jordan Binnington’s big rebound for a tap-in goal.
3:50: Barclay Goodrow hauls Robert Bortuzzo down as they race to the puck in the Blues’ zone.
3:44: Vladimir Tarasenko scores on the power play.
END FIRST: Sharks 0, Blues 2
The Sharks have struggled at the following tasks: keeping the puck, carrying the puck into the offensive zone, winning the puck along the boards, passing the puck, and clearing the puck. If it has to do with the puck, they’ve been bad at it. I’ve just gotten word that the puck is the key object in the sport of ice hockey. They could be in trouble.
Apparently the Sharks out-shot and out-hit the Blues in the first period. Also it’s time for more hockey.
13:21: Dylan Gambrell scores! The Blues had a 2-on-1 that somehow didn’t work out for them. Joonas Donskoi launches the puck to Gambrell who was lurking at the Blues’ line. That’s Gambrell’s first ever NHL goal.
12:50: Marcus Sorensen is down in the corner. No call.
9:33: Jordan Binnington nearly lets another goal in with Logan Couture on the edge of the crease. I think it was Colton Parayko who flung it away.
9:03: We return from commercial break to find the Sharks on a penalty kill. Great!
7:13: Well, the Sharks survived more of the penalty kill than last time. Brayden Schenn is very enthused about his goal.
END SECOND: Sharks 1, Blues 3
At least this game won’t be a shutout for Jordan Binnington.
The Sharks are showing fatigue and distress.
18:24: The Sharks get their first power play of the game.
16:20: Penalty killed. Kevin Labanc was the closest to scoring when he hit the post.
13:00: Evander Kane has the best chance since the middle of the second period, but can’t make it happen.
7:29: Oskar Sundqvist gets a solo opportunity in front of Martin Jones. Jones shut him down.
6:55: The Blues create chaos in front of the net and Tyler Bozak scores. The Sharks have seven minutes to score three goals just to get into overtime.
2:15: Ivan Barbashev scores into the empty net. 5-1.
FINAL SCORE: Sharks 1, Blues 5. The Sharks have been eliminated.
This isn’t the first time the San Jose Sharks have faced elimination in this postseason, but it might be the scariest.
Due to injuries suffered in Game 5 against the St. Louis Blues, Tomas Hertl and Erik Karlsson did not make the trip to St. Louis with the team. Joe Pavelski, who missed nearly the entire second round after a concussion in Game 7 of the first round, also suffered a hit to the head and is a game-time decision.
This roster has fought through a laundry list of injuries for the entire postseason. An embarrassing effort in Game 5's shutout loss certainly begs the question of how long a roster this bruised can continue to compete and with the additional injuries during that game taking out top players for San Jose (with no repercussions for the Blues, who will undoubtedly continue to headhunt unchecked), the writing seems to be on the wall.
Still, it's the playoffs. Crazier things have happened than the Sharks forcing yet another Game 7 at home.
Expected scratches: Erik Karlsson, Tomas Hertl, Marcus Sorensen, Lukas Radil
Blues (via Jeremy Rutherford)
Jaden Schwartz — Brayden Schenn — Vladimir Tarasenko
Sammy Blais — Ryan O’Reilly — David Perron
Patrick Maroon — Tyler Bozak — Robert Thomas
Ivan Barbashev — Oskar Sundqvist — Alexander Steen
Joel Edmundson — Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester — Colton Parayko
Carl Gunnarsson — Robert Bortuzzo
Expected scratches: Robby Fabbri, Vince Dunn
Where to Watch
Puck drop will be at 5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern from Enterprise Center in St. Louis. The game will be broadcast nationally on NBC Sports in the United States and on CBC and Sportsnet in Canada. You can also listen to the radio call on 98.5 KFOX in the Bay Area.