Elliott or Allen, Allen or Elliott – it makes little difference to the Sharks, who have a 3-2 lead in the series.
St. Louis scored three times on its first 13 shots and took a 3-2 lead on a power play goal by Robby Fabbri with 8:02 left in the second period. Hitchcock told reporters he expects the Sharks will face Game 6 with the same game plan they used at the Tank against the Nashville Predators two weeks ago in Game 7 of that series: Aggressive pressure in all zones, working for turnovers to create scoring chances, riding the home crowd energy to build a quick lead.
“He’s healthy now”, Hitchcock said of plugging in Upshall, who missed Game 5 with an upper-body injury. It wasn’t necessarily his fault that they dropped the second and third games of this series, but the switch to Jake Allen seemed to spark the other guys in Game 4.
It ended up working in their favor.
Tarasenko had six shots on goal, including four on the power play, in Game 2. But better just that anyone in a Sharks uniform scores a winning goal, Wednesday or Friday. Not bad for a guy who scored just seven in 79 games during the regular season.
But star forward Vladimir Tarasenko was silent again.
Leading the Western Conference finals 3-2, the Sharks can seal the series with a win Wednesday at home in Game 6. He was pulled for James Reimer in the second period of Game 4. End of period, the game is on the line, I can play him anywhere.
Brodziak, meanwhile, had been a non-factor for the entire postseason. Brodziak hounded Jones for the entire period, and he scored on him twice.
This was an easily winnable game and one the Blues needed.
The Sharks then hit what they called rock bottom last year when they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003 but rebounded this season under first-year coach Peter DeBoer and a core anchored by players like Thornton, Marleau, captain Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic that have spent years trying to bring a title to San Jose.
Joe Thornton won gold medals with Team Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and the 2010 Vancouver Games and he also snagged a World Cup title with his native country in 2004. It was his 12th goal in 17 games in the playoffs, the most in the National Hockey League this season. Thornton has yet to score in the series, but he has continued to provide damage with his passing ability.
The San Jose Sharks have had more than their fair share of playoff disappointments over the years.
San Jose is one win away from its first ever Stanley Cup finals berth after a 6-3 win Monday over St. Louis in Game 5. After the way Game 5 between the Sharks and Blues closed out, with the Sharks going to town on the scoresheet in the 3rd, Game 6 has “blood in the water” written all over it for San Jose fans.
Elliott has won both games during the postseason when the Blues faced elimination. Over the past two months, he has played 25 games in 61 days – and it was starting to show.
“Just like the rest of our group, he’s honest, and he loves the game”, said DeBoer, when asked about Pavelski.
But the Sharks are motivated, more motivated than they have been in franchise history.
None of those players scored a goal with Vlasic on the ice. But from a half-full perspective, the Blues could be a few minor adjustments away from competing in their first Stanley Cup round since 1970.