Work in Sports
SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) -- The St. Louis Blues' task isn't so daunting anymore.
Finally looking like Presidents' Trophy winners, the Blues forced a decisive seventh game in their Western Conference quarterfinal series with a 6-2 rout of the San Jose Sharks.
Scott Young recorded his first career playoff hat trick and rookie Jochen Hecht continued his stellar play with a goal and three assists as St. Louis tries to rally from a three games to one deficit in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year.
"I don't know if the score was indicative of the game, and we had some lucky goals," Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. "You have to be happy with it and just not get carried away by the score."
Unlike last season, when they completed their comeback at Phoenix, the Blues will host Game Seven on Tuesday.
"We went through this last year and we know the most important game is Game Five, then Games Six and Seven," Young said. "That puts pressure on them to win Game Six."
St. Louis broke open a tight game by scoring five times on only nine shots in the second period. Goaltender Steve Shields was beaten by four straight shots and gave way to rookie Evgeni Nabokov to start the third period.
"It was a joke today," Sharks coach Darryl Sutter said. "It was a game of mistakes by our guys. We're just back at square one again."
Owen Nolan and Bryan Marchment scored for the Sharks, who are 2-1 all-time in Game Sevens, claiming both victories on the road. In 1994, they eliminated top-seeded Detroit in the first round after an embarrassing 7-1 defeat in Game Six.
"This game was probably the best way to lose instead of OT," San Jose right wing Tony Granato said. "It's going to be a one-game series for us against the best team in the league."
"It was a seven-game series, now it's a one game series," added Marchment. "Our confidence is up and it's going to be a battle.
Things just got away from us and it was hard to fight back."
Young scored the only goal of the first period at 12:31. Pierre Turgeon started the play by getting past defenseman Mike Rathje in the neutral zone. Hecht threw a pass across the slot to Young, who steered the puck past Shields.
Young also started the second-period blitz at the 21-second mark after Hecht gathered a rebound of Chris Pronger's shot and fed the puck back to the top of the slot.
San Jose was on the power play with a chance to get back in it, but Vincent Damphousse's sharp-angle shot from the right side hit the near goalpost, went off goaltender Roman Turek's skate and rolled along the goal line. Turek recovered and stopped Damphousse's stuff attempt with 16:25 to go in the period.
"I tried to bang it in, but I got a tip on it and I watched it trickle down the line," Damphousse said. "If it had gone in, the game might had changed for us."
Less than two minutes later, referee Terry Gregson immediately waved off an apparent goal by Tony Granato after San Jose's Mike Ricci knocked the net off its pegs.
Hecht, who leads all scorers in this series with eight points, made it 3-0 at 9:29. With both teams down a man, Turgeon threw the puck toward the net from the left side and Hecht redirected it past Shields' glove.
The onslaught continued 2:13 later when Pronger took a drop pass from Lubos Bartecko at the top of the right faceoff circle and wristed a shot that hit Shields' glove and rolled into the net.
Pesky rookie Tyson Nash opened a five-goal cushion 69 seconds later on a backhander from the low slot and Young made it four goals on as many shots just 91 seconds thereafter. With the Blues on the power play, Hecht's shot hit the crossbar but Young scored off the rebound to complete the 10th postseason hat trick in team history.
"Pierre and Jochen played great," Young said. "They gave us some chances and they always seem to put the puck in front of the net for me.
"We were patient and we didn't force anything. This is damn near the best game we have played. After settling into our game, we played all-out for the last 50 minutes."
Shields surrendered six goals on 14 shots but should appear in a seventh game for the second time in his career.
"I have to remember to play relaxed, have fun, enjoy the challenge facing me and be ready to play one game. That's it, one game," he said. "I have to focus and be ready to work."
"I don't feel good about this," Shields added. "When you allow so many goals, you're obviously not playing well. I actually haven't been thrilled about our play in the last two games.
We're making too many mistakes."
The third period was a mess, with the teams combining for 42 penalty minutes, including a pair of fighting majors on Nash and one each on Jeff Norton and Ron Stern of the Sharks.
Marchment had the only goal of the period, putting a backhander past Turek with four minutes to play.
"Today, it really looked like a No. 1 seed against a No. 8 seed out there," San Jose defenseman Gary Suter said. "I hope we haven't given the momentum away."