After a widely discussed Game 3 victory, the Sharks had the opportunity to make a statement and take a commanding three-games-to-one Western Conference Final lead over the Blues on Friday night. But after finding themselves in an early two-goal hole, San Jose couldn't find the magic a second game in a row, and dropped Game 4 to St. Louis 2-1.
Here are three takeaways from Game 4 in St. Louis.
Not as lucky as some might think
You really can't blame those two first-period goals on Martin Jones, since they both deflected off of his teammates and he was clearly the reason the Blues weren't up by three or four goals by the end of the first frame. Then, when San Jose turned up the heat in the second period, their offense couldn't cash in -- Timo Meier's backhanded attempt was denied with help from Carl Gunnarsson, and Brent Burns rung the puck off of the post.
San Jose deserves credit for responding in the second stanza and putting pressure on St. Louis, hemming the Blues in their own zone and forcing the play. Unfortunately, the lack of goal support kept them from completely swinging the momentum back into their favor.
Power play converts -- but still needs some work
Long story short: Before the third period of Game 4, the Sharks hadn't scored a 5-on-4 power-play goal since the second round. That's not good.
Nearly every game, the Sharks are leaving scoring opportunities on the table because they can't find the back of the net on the man advantage. To make matters worse, the Blues tallied a power-play goal for a second straight game -- not a good sign considering St. Louis'
power play has been struggling just as much as San Jose's. After finally converting midway through the third frame, the Sharks got yet another opportunity on the man advantage, but couldn't generate any good chances.
One of the things that worked for the Sharks on their third-period power-play goal was that they were finally getting in front of the net instead of staying up high and passing the puck back and forth. If the Sharks can get a little bit of confidence from Friday's power-play goal, they will be in better shape.
No love in Game 4s
It's true. The Sharks were almost shut out in their third straight Game 4 through these playoffs, ending Friday evening being outscored 10-1 through three Game 4s.
Now, this doesn't guarantee the win-loss trend will continue or that the Sharks will respond with a dominant Game 5 when the series returns to San Jose on Sunday afternoon. However, Team Teal has certainly shown it has the ability to respond nicely after a not-so-stellar game.
The Sharks have played their best hockey this postseason when they're bouncing back after a loss. Game 5 will be a good time for them to bounce back and make a statement.