If the narrative after Game 3 was that San Jose got all the bounces and all the officiating breaks, then the hockey gods did a fast 180 during Game 4 in St. Louis.
The Blues beat the Sharks 2-1, while never putting a single puck past Martin Jones themselves.
Here are some observations with the Western Conference final heading back to San Jose tied at two.
Close but not that close
The breakdown of San Jose’s shots was telling on Friday night: 30 pucks on goal, 21 attempts blocked, and 22 which missed the net. That’s a high volume of opportunities that never even put Blues goalie Jordan Binnington to work. Brent Burns also hit two posts. That’s how close this outcome was to the Sharks holding a 3-1 series lead.
Not a perfect theory
The legend of “undefeated when allowing two or fewer” comes to an end for San Jose.
In a streak dating back to March 2018, the Sharks were unblemished when holding their opponent to two goals or fewer. This season, their record in that circumstance is 39-1.
We never promised it was a guarantee, only a great recipe for success — which should still be counted upon.
Don't blame the refs
The officiating was questionable at best Friday night.
I have reservations about Brendan Dillon’s holding the stick penalty in the first, Timo Meier’s hooking in the first, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s corresponding slash in the second.
In the same breath, I also want to disconnect these calls from potential referee retribution against the Sharks, and I want to dispel the notion that officiating alone cost them the game.
What's up with EK65?
A big question mark moving forward will be the health of Erik Karlsson. He has found ways to either skate smarter, or recover faster from injury during these playoffs - but he was also noticeably absent for about six important minutes of the final period. The defenseman did return to the game once Martin Jones was pulled in favor of the extra attacker. If there is a silver lining to our concerns — it wasn’t seen as a risk to Karlsson or the game for him to participate at that critical juncture. But until answers arrive in Game 5, questions will persist.
Are we going seven?
Even if our series goes a full seven games, it’s worth this observation since we’ve already passed the halfway point: The Sharks have every opportunity to advance. This is not a guarantee they will or a suggestion that the Blues are not up to the task of knocking them off. It’s just that we’ve seen matchups over the years where the result seemed destined to go against San Jose by this point. They’ve been outmatched and overpowered before, but you’d be hard pressed to say that’s the case here. The Sharks and Blues have alternated wins, and it might take a third consecutive Game 7 for San Jose to advance. But wouldn’t you accept that path if it meant playing for the Stanley Cup again?