Work in Sports
SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) -- The St. Louis Blues' first three-game losing streak of the season could not have come at a worse time.
The San Jose Sharks continued to get all the right bounces and pushed the Presidents' Trophy winners to the brink of elimination in their Western Conference quarterfinal series with a 3-2 victory.
Defenseman Gary Suter's point shot hopped past All-Star goaltender Roman Turek with 8:37 remaining and gave eighth-seeded San Jose an improbable and commanding three games to one lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Sharks became the first eighth seed to win an opening-round series under the NHL's current playoff format when they stunned the Detroit Red Wings in 1994. And they're on the verge of repeating the feat after finishing 27 points behind St. Louis during the regular season.
"We have taken a page out of their book," San Jose captain Owen Nolan said. "We have to be patient, play basic hockey and take advantage of our chances. We're not surprised on how we're playing. You can't come into a series, thinking you are going to lose."
Suter one-timed a shot from the left point that hit the stick of Blues right wing Jamal Mayers. It bounced once on the ice before skipping past Turek's blocker.
"The team we're playing is not going to quit. Things are going our way, the puck is finding a way to get to you," Suter said. "We still have a long way to go. We have to remain focused. They're a good team."
"While I was closing in, I knew he was expecting to shoot," said Mayers. "I needed to get in his way."
San Jose's Steve Shields stopped a point-blank shot by Chris Pronger at the final buzzer for his 26th save.
The Blues rallied from a three games to one deficit against Phoenix to win last year's conference quarterfinals and they return home for Game Five on Friday.
"We're frustrated. We are not getting the bounces we got last year," Mayers said. "We've got to work harder. It doesn't matter how hard we work, it doesn't matter if we don't win."
"Right now, they are finding ways to win. They are getting the bounces," Blues defenseman Al MacInnis added. "If anyone is thinking just because you finish first it would be easy, they would be wrong. ... Now we got to do what we did last year. We're a little frustrated but we've got to stay positive."
Playing before another raucous sellout at "The Tank," the Sharks jumped to a 1-0 lead just over six minutes into the game. Following a Blues' turnover, Mike Rathje slapped the puck from the top of the left faceoff circle and Marco Sturm tipped it past Turek for his first point of the series.
Mike Ricci made it 2-0 just 97 seconds into the second period. After keeping the puck in the St. Louis zone, he weaved his way along the goal line before flipping the puck toward the net. It caromed off sliding defenseman Marc Bergevin and eluded Turek for Ricci's 14th career playoff goal and second of the series.
Their chances limited over the first 30 minutes, the Blues sprung to life in a 36-second span.
St. Louis was on the power play when Pierre Turgeon curled around defenseman Marcus Ragnarsson and threw the puck to the doorstep. Jochen Hecht swept it over Shields' left shoulder for his third goal of the series. The rest of the Blues have seven.
Mike Eastwood tied it with 6 1/2 minutes left in the second. Shields tried to trap Mayers' bad angle shot against the right goalpost, but Eastwood was unchecked and finally jammed it between the goalie's pads.
The Sharks clearly were rattled and nearly fell behind in the final minute of the period. Off a turnover by Vincent Damphousse at the blue line, Scott Young broke to the top of the slot and put a wrister off the crossbar.
"For about 30 seconds, we lost it," Shields said. "We got it back, we're happy to get the game out of the way, but we still have to win four."