The San Jose Sharks knew they were going to be up against a desperate St. Louis Blues team, and during the first half of the first period, the Blues showed up with their usual grinding and hard forechecking game. However, Martin Jones was up to the task. The Sharks finally getting their legs going a bit later on in the period, and despite missing the net on a few shots, it was Tomas Hertl who would break the ice with just a little over 4 minutes to go on a booming slap shot that beat Brian Elliott top shelf high on the glove side. It was off a great effort by Brent Burns defensively that forced a Blues turnover and got the puck to Joe Thornton, who chipped it over to Joe Pavelski, feeding the puck to the goal scorer. 1-0 Sharks.
The 2nd period saw the Blues with more offensive pressure but again, Jones held the Sharks in. The Sharks added to their lead that started with another great defensive play, this time by Joonas Donskoi. This led to the transition the other way for San Jose as Logan Couture skated into the offensive zone and waited to drop a pass to the trailing Donskoi, who roofed it past Elliott.
A little over 6 minutes into the third period, the Sharks built onto their two-goal lead one more time with a sweet pass by Joe Thornton to Tomas Hertl, who get his second goal of the game through the wickets of Brian Elliott to make it 3-0 Sharks. Elliott’s night was done after the third goal and was replaced by Jake Allen.
With the net empty and the extra attacker on in the latter stages of the third period, the Blues sustained offensive pressure inside the Sharks’ defensive zone but Martin Jones once again stood tall in the crease and the boys in teal did a great job of not allowing very many quality shots on net keeping St. Louis to the outside. The Sharks ended up shutting out the Blues 3-0 and look ahead to Game 4.
Per the NHL Public Relations on Twitter, Martin Jones tied a Sharks franchise record for 3 shutouts and 10 wins in a single postseason with former Shark Evgeni Nabokov having done so in ’04. He is also the first goalie in Sharks history to record back-to-back shutouts.
In terms of further analysis, I almost don’t even know what to say. This team feels different. This team this late in the postseason has not ever been this dominant, and as a fan of this team it’s amazing to see it happen. To quote Hertl in his postgame interview with Brodie Brazil in his first year in the NHL, “this is dream”. I mean it really is! This is the start of the dream that’s starting to come true with each win, and while the Blues could still fight back in Game 4, there’s a belief in this team that makes me believe that we could be seeing the Sharks’ first-ever Stanley Cup Final appearance in the near future. Head coach Peter DeBoer said at the very beginning of these playoffs that the Sharks would be writing their own history. That’s exactly what they’re doing, and I hope the Sharks keep doing so.
Game 4 will be on Saturday at 4:15 PM. It’s going to be a crucial game for both teams, especially for the Blues as they try to get back in this series and tie it up. Obviously a 3-1 series lead would be a huge advantage for San Jose and a huge deficit for St. Louis. A 2-2 series tie would make this a series again.