Sharks

Instant Replay: Elliott a wall as Sharks drop Game 1 to Blues

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Instant Replay: Elliott a wall as Sharks drop Game 1 to Blues

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS -– The Sharks and Blues both had the right to feel confident about their games headed into Sunday’s Western Conference Final opener, as they were each coming off of dominant Game 7 performances in the previous round.

The Blues are the only ones still feeling good, though, beating the Sharks at Scottrade Center, 2-1, to take the early series lead in the best-of-seven. Game 2 is on Tuesday.

Jori Lehtera’s marker in the middle of the second period was the difference, and was a preventable goal on a number of fronts.

Brent Burns turned the puck over to the Blues center in the neutral zone, and then backed off of Lehtera, who charged into the zone. The shot from the circle was a stoppable one, too, but it deflected off of Martin Jones arm and through at 9:15.

[RATTO: Sharks-Blues has all the makings of another seven-game series]

Brian Elliott preserved the lead the rest of the way, making his best stop of the night with a right pad on Joe Pavelski’s one-timer about one minute later.

Elliott got help later in the second period, when he was unable to freeze a slow moving puck that was sliding in his direction, but the whistle blew before the goalie inadvertently kicked it over the line.

A Marc-Edouard Vlasic wrist shot with two-and-a-half minutes left in regulation smacked Elliott’s blocker, and the goalie covered it up in a maze of bodies after briefly losing track of it. He got just enough of a Pavelski chance from the slot with less than two minutes left and Jones pulled for an extra attacker.

San Jose has lost is last four road games, including all three to Nashville in the second round.

The Sharks are 4-11 all-time when losing the first game of a playoff series.

St. Louis scored first. After getting a goal overturned due to incidental contact with Jones, the Blues took the lead anyway when David Backes got his stick on a Kevin Shattenkirk blast at 15:04.

San Jose tied it just 34 seconds later, though, on an impressive shift by the top line. Pavelski got a piece of a Burns offering that deflected again off of Tomas Hertl, whose nice work along the wall earlier on the shift kept the Sharks in possession in the offensive zone. It was Hertl’s third of the playoffs.

The Sharks had a distinct territorial advantage in the second period, outshooting the Blues 17-5, but it was St. Louis took its 2-1 lead to the dressing room on Lehtera’s slapper.

Special teams

Entering with a lethal power play that was operating at 31.0 percent in the playoffs, the Sharks went 0-for-3, including one third period advantage that Pete DeBoer used his timeout to keep his top unit on the ice for the duration.

The Blues owned the third-ranked penalty kill in the regular season, while the Sharks had the third-ranked power play.

The Blues went 1-for-2, capitalizing on Couture’s trip of Robby Fabbri, his first penalty of the playoffs.

In goal

Jones and Elliott have each started every game in the playoffs for his respective team.

Jones allowed two goals on 23 shots, falling to 8-5 in the playoffs, while Elliott made 31 saves to improve to 9-6.

Lineup

The Sharks made no changes to their lineup from Thursday’s Game 7 clincher against the Predators. An injured Matt Nieto, out since Game 6 of the second round, is expected to be available at some point in the series per DeBoer.

Healthy scratches for the Blues included Ryan Reaves, Magnus Paajarvi and Dmitrij Jaskin.

Vlasic’s five-game point streak (6a) came to an end.

Up next

The Sharks will remain in St. Louis as they prepare for Tuesday’s Game 2 (5 p.m., NBCSN). San Jose is 15-18 all-time in Game 2’s, but has won both this season.

The series continues every other day, with Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on Saturday, both in San Jose.

2020 NHL All-Star Game live stream: How to watch tournament online

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NBC Sports

2020 NHL All-Star Game live stream: How to watch tournament online

The players put on a show at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition in St. Louis on Friday night. On Saturday, they'll go head-to-head in the 2020 NHL All-Star Game at Enterprise Center.

Sharks forward Tomas Hertl didn't win any events on Friday, but he'll be one of the talks of the town heading into Saturday's exhibition due to the stunt he pulled against Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington in the Bud Light NHL Save Streak competition. It's unlikely he'll have a Justin Bieber mask stowed away under his jersey during Saturday's All-Star Game, but based on his personality, it wouldn't come as a shock if he had any other surprises in store.

[RELATED: Sharks' Hertl brings fun to NHL skills event with Bieber mask]

As San Jose's lone All-Star representative, Hertl will team up with the other members of the Pacific Division squad in an attempt to claim divisional supremacy over the rest of the league. The 2020 NHL All-Star Game will feature a two-round, three-game tournament in which the league's four divisions will square off. Each 20-minute game will be played 3-on-3, with teams changing sides at the 10-minute mark. Any game tied after 20 minutes of play will be decided by shootout.

In Round One, the two Eastern Conference divisions (Atlantic and Metropolitan) will face off, while the two Western Conference divisions (Central and Pacific) will battle in Round Two. The two winners then advance to Round Three where they'll face each other to determine the overall champion.

Here's how to watch the 2020 NHL All-Star Game online:

When: Saturday, Jan. 25, at 5 p.m. PT
TV: NBC
Live Stream: NBCSports.com

Sharks' Tomas Hertl brings the fun to NHL All-Star Skills Competition

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AP

Sharks' Tomas Hertl brings the fun to NHL All-Star Skills Competition

Leave it to Tomas Hertl to put a smile on everyone's face.

The self-described "smiley guy" is the Sharks' lone representative at NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis, and he didn't take long to show the Enterprise Center crowd why he fills that role so well during the All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night.

Hertl participated in two events on the evening, and got the crowd on its feet both times. But it was his first event -- the Bud Light NHL Save Streak -- during which he created one of the highlights of the entire night.

The Save Streak competition pits goalies against one another to see how many consecutive breakaway saves they can make. Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy held the lead with nine consecutive stops with only the hometown Jordan Binnington left to go. The Blues goaltender recently challenged musician Justin Bieber to a breakaway competition on Twitter, in which he said he would die his hair platinum blonde if Bieber scored at least once on 10 breakaway attempts.

Clearly, Hertl was paying attention, because he had a surprise for Binnington on his own breakaway attempt.

See for yourself:

Hertl didn't score on his hilarious attempt, but it's tough to blame him for two reasons. For one -- and perhaps most importantly -- he had a gigantic Justin Bieber mask over his entire face. Secondly, Binnington would go on to stop six more shots in a row after Hertl to win the event with a streak of 10.

[RELATED: Sharks' Karlsson named to NHL's All-Decade Second Team]

The 26-year-old forward wasn't done for the night, though. He participated in the next event -- the Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting -- as well.

The Accuracy Shooting competition involves a series of shooters attempting to hit five targets on a digital board. Hertl might have the best mits on the Sharks, and he wasted no time showing them off in St. Louis, knocking down four targets on his first four shot attempts. The crowd got louder and louder as it appeared Hertl might complete a perfect round in very short order, but unfortunately, the crescendo had to wait. Hertl struggled to hit the final target, requiring nine more attempts to close it out. Carolina's Jacob Slavvin ultimately won the event, hitting all five targets in only 9.505 seconds, considerably faster than Hertl's time of 17.161.

So, Hertl wasn't victorious in any one event at the Skills Competition, but he undoubtedly will be remembered as one of the big winners of the night. After all, as he likes to say, "Fun must be always."