Rewind: Numerous errors doom Sharks in decisive Game 4 loss


Rewind: Numerous errors doom Sharks in decisive Game 4 loss

SAN JOSE – Oh, how the tables can quickly turn in an NHL playoff series.

Fighting for their lives after making what some might consider a panic move in changing their starting goaltender, the St. Louis Blues were the much more aggressive, desperate and clean team in pounding the Sharks on Saturday night at SAP Center, 6-3.

The Blues’ victory evens the Western Conference Final at two games each, with Game 5 set for Monday in St. Louis.

The Sharks claimed 4-0 and 3-0 wins in Games 2 and 3, respectively, by forcing the Blues into mistakes with an aggressive forecheck, especially. The reverse happened in Game 4.

“They were doing what we did to them tonight,” Marc-Edouard Vlasic said.

Troy Brouwer’s power play goal after Brent Burns tripped Jaden Schwartz in the corner of the Sharks’ defensive zone put the Blues ahead six minutes into the game. A few minutes later, Paul Martin succumbed to pressure by Robby Fabbri with a soft turnover, eventually resulting in a Jori Lehtera score.

“They were more aggressive getting to pucks, maybe a little quicker than we were,” Vlasic said. “We weren’t breaking out as clean, had a couple turnovers there. They had a couple Grade-A chances in the first period.”

[INSTANT REPLAY: Blues batter Sharks 6-3, even series 2-2]

More mistakes came in the second.

A shorthanded Kyle Brodziak goal in the second period off of an unforced error by Joe Thornton upped the Blues’ lead to 3-0, and midway through the frame, Roman Polak handed the puck to Magnus Paajarvi moments before Brodziak tallied his second of the evening.

“We didn't execute tonight,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “We got burnt. We got what we deserved because of our execution.”

Martin said: “They were bringing two [forecheckers] early and we had a couple costly turnovers, especially right away. But we’re better than that. We need to make better plays.”

The primary storyline headed into the game was Blues coach Ken Hitchcock tabbing Jake Allen as his goalie rather than Brian Elliott, who had started all 17 games before Thursday. The move raised some eyebrows in that it was the Blues’ offense that was stagnant, going more than 150 minutes without a goal headed into Game 4. Elliott, who stole Game 1, wasn't the issue.

But it worked. Allen had to a make some early saves while the game was still scoreless, as the Sharks had a number odd-man rushes thanks in part to St. Louis’ aggressiveness. Had Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi or Joe Pavelski converted on their chances, perhaps that would have changed the tide of the game.

Instead, the Sharks didn’t capitalize, and failed to sustain any offense pressure until the third period when they were already buried, 4-0.

“I had a chance, Donskoi had a chance – just rolled off his stick,” Couture said. “You can create them, but you’ve got to score on them, though.”

Pavelski said: “If we get one early it definitely helps. … It would have been nice, but it didn’t happen. And when it doesn’t happen, you just can’t let [the game] get away like that.”

On the other end, Martin Jones was pulled after St. Louis’ fourth goal. While Jones wasn’t the reason the Sharks lost, he wasn’t any better than any of his teammates had been to that point, either.

DeBoer’s biggest error of the night – and that includes a failed offside challenge in the first period – was not getting Jones out after the third Blues goal, when the Sharks were noticeably on their heels and needed a jolt.

While the third period was better for San Jose, including three goals, the Sharks never really threatened St. Louis. Their best chance to at least make it interesting was on a power play down 5-2, but Donskoi misfired on what looked to be open net.

Now, it’s the Sharks’ turn to regroup, which is something they’ve done well through the first two-and-a-half rounds.

“Every game is different, but we’ve responded throughout these playoffs to our poor games and played well,” Couture said. “We’re going to have to do it again.”

Tommy Wingels said: “We’re in a dogfight here. It’s 2-2 and it’s a best of three now, and that’s fine.”

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

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
Live Stream:

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


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."