The Western Conference Final continued on Tuesday night in San Jose, and the St. Louis Blues were much better in Game 2 after getting knocked around in the series opener. While Logan Couture of the Sharks continued his offensive onslaught in these playoffs, apparently he was the only one whose alarm clock went off at his Bay Area home. The rest of the team failed to score, as the Blues were able to square the series at 1-1, sending it back to the banks of the Mississippi River for Game 3. Let’s get started!
The Blues wasted no time getting on the board, as they looked to avenge a 6-3 loss in Game 1 in San Jose on Saturday evening. It was Jaden Schwartz stepping up just 2:34 into the game, as he notched an even-strength marker on assists from Vladimir Tarasenko and Joel Edmundson to break the ice. It was his ninth goal of the postseason. Ever since a goal in Game 5 against the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round, Schwartz has been hot. He has nine goals and 12 points across the past 10 games for the Blues. Edmundson ended up with two assists, a plus-2 rating, a blocked shot and two hits over his 15:49 of ice time across 25 shifts.
At 4:16 of the second period, the visitors splashed more cold water on the frenzied crowd, as Vince Dunn notched his second of the playoffs on helpers from Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron. O’Reilly has a point in each of the first two games of this series, and three goals with 11 points across 15 games so far during the postseason. Perron’s helper was his second of the Western Conference Finals, and he now has three goals and eight points across his 15 playoff games to date.
Rookie Jordan Binnington was much better in this one protecting the cage, allowing just two goals on 26 shots after an uneven performance in Game 1. As dismal as the series opener looked, suddenly the Blues have evened the series and snatched home-ice advantage. Martin Jones was much more forgiving, yielding four goals on just 25 shots to take the home loss.
The story of these playoffs for San Jose has been the play of Logan Couture. Just 39 seconds after Dunn’s goal in the second period, and only 41 seconds after a penalty to Evander Kane, Couture notched a shorthanded goal. He singlehandedly lifted the Sharks back into the game with an even-strength marker, his 13th of the postseason, to make it 2-2. Timo Meier did the honors with the primary assist, giving him five goals and 14 points across 15 playoff games.
It was an ugly game for Kevin Labanc, who stumbled with a scoreless evening, a minus-3 rating and no shots on goal across 14:27 of ice time across 22 shifts. There weren’t many offensive heroes for the Sharks. Brent Burns tried to be a force, but he was scoreless with a minus-1 rating, five shots on goal and four hits across 26:56 of TOI. Joe Thornton was also scoreless with a minus-2, as he now has to produce if the Sharks are going to avoid the golf course in the next week or so.
After Couture’s second goal, the Blues picked up a goal from an unlikely source, especially for a marker of the game-winning variety. Robert Bortuzzo connected for his first of the playoffs at 16:34 of the third period, making it 3-2. Oskar Sundqvist provided the insurance with assists to Alexander Steen and Alex Pietrangelo. Bortuzzo also added five hits with a pair of blocked shots, while Sammy Blais led the way with six hits. Ivan Barbashev also kept up the physicality, dishing out five hits while managing a plus-1 rating. Sundqvist also scratched his body nicely, posting four blocked shots with four hits.
As far as the home side is concerned, Martin Jones allowed four goals on 25 shots, while Timo Meier picked up an assist to go along with four shots on goal, while adding five hits. Brent Burns added five shots with a block and four hits over his 26:56 of ice time, while Brendan Dillon delivered three hits for the home side. Couture was a solid 5-for-6 in the faceoff circle, while Jumbo was a respectable 8-for-13 (61.5%) at the dot. In the Blues side of the ledger, O’Reilly won just 33.3 percent of his faceoffs (7-for-21), while Tyler Bozak was the best of the lot at 7-for-12.
The series shifts to St. Louis for Game 3 on Wednesday night. The Sharks enter that one 1-5 over the past six playoff games as an underdog of +110 to +150, and they’re 2-5 in the past seven overall as a ‘dog, while going 3-7 in their past 10 on the road. Conversely, the Blues are 5-1 in the past six as a favorite of -110 to -150, going 16-6 in the past 22 as a home favorite. They’re also 18-8 in the past 26 against winning teams. The home team has also connected in six of the past seven games in this series, with the favorite going 5-2 across the past seven meetings.