ST. LOUIS – Joe Pavelski’s goal late in the second period was a big one, as it tied the Sharks-Blues Game 5 of the Western Conference Final headed into the final frame.
His goal early in the third was even bigger.
Thanks in large part to their first-year captain, the Sharks are one win away from the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. They downed the Blues on Monday night, 6-3, to take a three-games-to-two lead over St. Louis.
They can book their ticket to the NHL’s final round on Wednesday at SAP Center (6 p.m., NBCSN).
Trailing 3-2, the Sharks tied it late in the second period on Pavelski’s power play goal at 18:33. He got open in the slot and slapped in a pass from Joe Thornton.
St. Louis was a perfect 6-0 in the postseason when leading after two.
In the first minute of the third, Pavelski notched his 12th of the playoffs when he deftly redirected a Brent Burns floater just 16 seconds in. St. Louis had iced the puck off the opening faceoff, leading to the offensive zone draw that Pavelski won getting into position to score.
The teams punched and counterpunched through the first two periods, resulting in a 3-3 tie.
The Sharks opened the scoring, when Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s point shot had eyes in beating Jake Allen high to the far side at 3:51.
St. Louis responded to take a lead before the first intermission. Jaden Schwartz’s first goal in 14 games tied it at 1-1, putting in a loose puck of a Kevin Shattenkirk shot that hit David Backes in front at 7:04. Later, Troy Brouwer skillfully batted in a Paul Stastny rebound off of Martin Jones out of mid-air at 15:08 of the opening frame.
Brouwer’s former teammate with the Capitals, Joel Ward, scored a similar goal on the power play, tying the game at 2-2 in the second. Towards the end of a Sharks power play, Ward bunted in a Vlasic shot that ricocheted off of the post at 4:37.
St. Louis re-took the lead on a boneheaded penalty by Roman Polak, who jumped Dmitrij Jaskin at 11:01. Robby Fabbri’s one-timer from high in the zone somehow got through Jones’ five-hole at 11:58.
The Sharks, who got late empty net goals by Chris Tierney and Ward to cap the scoring, improved to 5-1 in the playoffs after a loss.
Teams that win Game 5 of a series that is tied at two games each have a 78.4 percent success rate in the series (192-53).
San Jose was 2-for-3 on the power play, after going a combined 0-for-7 in games three and four. The Sharks are 4-for-18 in the series.
St. Louis was 1-for-3, and is 4-for-17 in the series.
Jones, who was pulled for the first time in the playoffs in the second period of Game 4, returned and made 18 saves. He improved to 11-7 in the playoffs.
Allen was making his second straight start, and allowed four goals on 25 shots.
Blues forwards Fabbri and Backes both played after they were limited in Game 4, presumably due to injury.
San Jose returns home for Game 6, where it is 6-2 in the playoffs.
The Sharks are 8-3 all-time when leading a series, three-games-to-two.