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May 22, 2022

Sharks in ‘must-win’ mode after 2-1 loss to Blues in Game 4

St. Louis produced its second win in three days at HP Pavilion Thursday night to grab a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference quarterfinals at HP Pavilion.

B. J. Crombeen and Andy McDonald took care of the goal-scoring for the visitors, as the Blues turned back the San Jose Sharks 2-1 for their third consecutive victory. Game 5, scheduled for Saturday night in St. Louis, becomes a must win for San Jose if the series is to come back to HP Pavilion on Monday night.

Brian Elliott, the back-up goaltender to series starter Jaroslav Halak, earned the win with 24 saves in his second start this week. Antti Niemi, in a losing effort, was credited with 23 saves in the defense-dominated game.

San Jose, trailing 2-0, scored late in the game with the goaltender pulled for the second straight game. Joe Thornton gave the Sharks life with 18:53 gone in the third period with his first goal of the playoffs. The Blues were able to regroup and deny the Sharks a serious challenge for the final minute.

Logan Couture challenged Elliott on a breakaway 4:25 into play. Elliott kicked aside Couture’s backhanded shot at the right post to keep the game scoreless.

The Blues came back with a goal at 7:12 of the first period. Crombeen, a winger who scored one goal in 40 games during the regular season, was in the high slot when Blue Patrik Berglund controlled the puck behind the Shark net, then dished to Crombeen for the 30-footer past Niemi.

After a scoreless second period, the Blues connected on a power play goal 12 minutes into the third period. David Perron’s shot from the top of the left circle was redirected by Berglund before Niemi made the initial save. The puck dropped behind the goaltender in the crease and McDonald sped to the area to jam the puck into the net.

“An unfortunate bounce,” Thornton said.

San Jose threatened immediately after Niemi was pulled for the extra skater in the closing 90 seconds of the game. Brent Burns kept the Sharks scoring play alive in the corner of the Blues zone before Couture took control of the puck and found an unmarked Thornton at the top of the slot for the goal.

“We’ve put ourselves in a corner and we have to fight our way back,” Thornton said. “Both teams play disciplined defense. … We didn’t get too many looks.”

Couture and Marty Halvat each finished with five shots on net for San Jose. McDonald was credited with seven shots, and Chris Stewart five.

“This was probably our best 60-minute effort in the series,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

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