A desperate third period push came too late, and the San Jose Sharks season ended in a 5-1 loss in St. Louis Tuesday night.
With the win, the Blues win the Western Conference Finals 4-2 to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
In a game without without team captain Joe Pavelski, the No. 3 playoff goal-scorer Tomas Hertl and playoff assists leader Erik Karlsson, the Sharks still outshot the Blues 26-18. But Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington proved too good.
St. Louis opened the scoring for the third straight game after getting a 2-on-1 rush. While Brent Burns disrupted the initial pass, the Blues maintained possession. David Perron deflected Sammy Blais’ shot for the opening goal just 1:31 into the game.
With less than four minutes remaining in the first period, just seven seconds into a power play, the Blues pushed their lead to 2-0 off of Vladimir Tarasenko’s wrist shot.
After outshooting St. Louis 9-7 in the opening period, San Jose got on the scoreboard 6:40 into the second period.
Martin Jones turned away the Blues on a 3-on-1 rush, allowing Joonas Donskoi to backhand a stretch pass to Dylan Gambrell. The Sharks’ 2016 second round draft pick sent a wrist shot past Binnington. Gambrell’s first NHL goal cut the Blues lead to 2-1.
The Blues struck again on the power play to extend their lead again just six minutes later. Brayden Schenn put in the rebound of Alex Pietrangelo’s shot for his first goal in 14 games. St. Louis lead 3-1 with seven minutes left in the second period.
Sharks controlled the play early in the third period, outshooting the Blues 9-0 in the first 10 minutes. But Binnington locked them down.
When Burns kept the puck inside the Blues zone and passed to an open Evander Kane in front of the net, Kane’s attempt to turn and shoot was stopped by Binnington. Just 40 seconds later, Logan Couture received a breakout pass and raced into the St. Louis zone, but his snapshot was gloved by Binnington. Couture’s shot with 9:30 on the clock was San Jose’s last shot on goal for the game.
The Blues got their first shot on goal in the period with 7:30 left. That appeared to be the momentum they needed as Tyler Bozak’s shot deflected off Gustav’s Nyquist stick and past Jones.
Ivan Barbashev scored the empty-netter with 2:15 remaining to add icing onto St. Louis’ cake. The Blues will play the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals starting Monday.
The Sharks will now have to manage pending unrestricted free agents Pavelski, Thornton, Karlsson, Donskoi, Gustav Nyquist and restricted free agents Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc ahead of the 2019-20 season.