The sting of their Game 3 overtime loss will once again test the mettle of the St. Louis Blues. Fortunately for them, the Blues have overcome enough adversity already this season to have a chance.
As the Blues look to rebound from a 5-4 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday when they continue the series Friday in St. Louis, it’s with the confidence that they regrouped from being the league’s last-place team when they awoke on Jan. 3 to reach the Western Conference finals — a journey that includes a head coach firing and reliance upon a rookie goalie to turn the corner.
The motivation of knowing they received the short end of the stick when Timo Meier’s hand-pass resulted in Erik Karlsson scoring the game-winning goal in Game 3 to give the Sharks a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven series provides the Blues extra fuel for their underdog tale.
“We did in the last series,” captain Alex Pietrangelo told NHL.com. “We were down against Dallas and came back (to win the second-round series in seven games). We were down 2-0 (Wednesday night) and came back. We know how to look in the mirror, and we know how to get better. We felt we had control of a lot of the game, so we’ll use that recipe for next game.”
Lost in the controversial goal that will likely prevent referees Marc Joannette and Dan O’Rourke and linesmen Jonny Murray and Matt MacPherson from many more assignments this spring is the fact the Blues had all kinds of opportunities to close out the game long before Karlsson’s handball goal.
St. Louis led 4-3 after two periods, and golden chances to score the much-needed insurance goal were thwarted by Sharks goalie Martin Jones, and a couple of opportunities to hit an empty net were missed. Throw in Pietrangelo’s late icing infractions and porous team defense on the tying goal with 61 seconds left in regulation, and the Blues can find plenty to focus on instead of the botched call.
“We’ve got to close that game out in my opinion,” said head coach Craig Berube, who will do all he can to keep his players focused on moving forward and not looking back. “We should have won it 4-3.”
Blues forward Alexander Steen added, “That’s (the) playoffs. Got to get ready for Game 4. Mental toughness. This is the Stanley Cup playoffs. You’re going to get some bounces. Some bounces aren’t going to go your way, so you’ve just got to move forward.”
Which is what everyone involved in the game will attempt. The Blues will try to avoid getting caught up in what might have been, and the Sharks will look to build on the momentum of a win that came because they recovered from their own blown lead. San Jose was ahead 2-0 after the first period Wednesday.
“It’s the playoffs,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said. “We’ve won stunningly. We’ve lost stunningly. When you get three rounds deep, you’ve seen it all. It’s just reset and get ready for the next one. It’s going to be harder than this one.”
–Field Level Media