Work in Sports
ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- First, the St. Louis Blues gave away a goal. Then they gave away home-ice advantage in their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Mike Ricci's power-play goal with 5:42 remaining broke a tie as the San Jose Sharks stunned the top seed in the West with a 4-2 victory that evened their first-round series at one win apiece.
St. Louis right wing Scott Young, who missed Game One with a shoulder injury, took a double-minor for high-sticking Jeff Friesen with eight minutes left. Ricci converted on the ensuing power play, backhanding a rebound from in front for his 13th career playoff goal.
"No one knew where the puck was, except for (the officials)," Ricci said. "They knew where the puck was. They were pointing at it in the net. It was a lucky break for us. All I heard was, 'It's in the net.' I did not have a clue, being tied up against the boards."
The Blues pulled goaltender Roman Turek for an extra attacker with just over a minute to play, but Al MacInnis' blast from the point caromed off the end boards to San Jose's Owen Nolan, who scored into an empty net with 63 seconds remaining.
One of three teams in the postseason with losing records, the Sharks finished 27 points behind St. Louis. But they will host three of the final five contests, if necessary, including Game Three on Monday.
"Our main goal was to get a split here," Nolan said. "We have to realize that after what we did in the first game, we had to bear down. We had to dump the puck and go get it."
"We were playing a very good hockey team. They are the team that won the Presidents' Trophy and that is a big challenge for us. But we have to take it a game at a time and we are going back to San Jose, going back to the 'Tank' and we have to get up for the next game," added Friesen.
St. Louis came within one win of tying the NHL record with 27 road victories this season.
"We have won on the road and we have had success in a number of buildings this year," Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. "We have to play better than we have played, for sure."
Rookie Marty Reasoner put the Blues ahead on the power play 9:54 into the first period with his second goal in as many games. But San Jose tied it on one of the most unusual goals in playoff history.
During a power play, Sharks defenseman Gary Suter flipped a shot from the left faceoff circle. St. Louis defenseman Marc Bergevin grabbed it out of mid-air with his right glove while skating toward his own net, then tossed it past a stunned Turek.
"I thought it was still in his hand," Nolan said. "And then, skating around the net, I see it in the back of the net. My hands are in the air, so in the situation, you cannot complain."
Asked if he thought Bergevin might have had trouble getting the puck out of his glove, Quenneville said, "No, I don't think (so). I just think it was a bad pitch."
After a scoreless second period, San Jose got production from an unlikely source to grab its first lead. Defenseman Bryan Marchment, who did not score in 49 regular-season games, banked a backhander off Turek's right leg and into the net for his second career playoff goal and first since 1992.
The Blues tied it at 8:35 on Stephane Richer's 53rd career playoff tally. Defenseman Mike Rathje was caught in the offensive zone, leading to a 2-on-1. Craig Conroy made a perfect cross-crease feed past defenseman Marcus Ragnarsson, and Richer had no trouble redirecting it.
"They compete hard," MacInnis said of the Sharks. "All of the stuff that is going on out there, that is just playoff hockey. It is not going to go away and you have to deal with it. We have not played our game the first two games. I do not know what the reason is, but we just have to start playing a little bit better. We have to get back to playing the hockey we have played all year."
Steve Shields, who surrendered five goals on 36 shots in Wednesday's opener, had to make only 18 saves today.
"We played St. Louis hard all year but did not win any games. There was really only one game in which we had any business winning. All the other games, we battled them hard," said San Jose center Ron Sutter. "You recognize what your abilities are in the locker room and you go out there and play. It is playoff time."