The St. Louis Blues goaltending has been the biggest part of their success all season long, leaving coach Hitchcock with a hard decision on who to use in playoffs: Halak or Elliott. He made a decision to go with Halak in part due to his much larger playoff resume, but Elliott would get his turn. Halak was strong for the Blues but a freak incident forced him out of the game early in the second as his own defenseman, Jackman, slid into him unable to stop. Elliott came in in relief and continued what Halak had begun.
Blues offense was also strong, getting to work quickly and taking the first lead just over a minute in. Sobotka’s shot on Niemi squeezed through him but landed in the crease. It was then Sharks defenseman Vlasic misfiring it into his own net in an attempt to clear it, a fluke goal that unfortunately for him and the Sharks was the game winner.
Blues didn’t quit pressing after that. Oshie made a terrific play in the second, getting past two Sharks players and then dangling through another two before feeding the puck to a wide open Backes on the other side who easily fired it in the empty net. The Blues powerplay added a third, but for the most point meaningless goal, with 25 seconds remaining in the third. It did increase the team’s power play stats however as McDonald fired home the shot while the Blues had a two-man advantage.
The Blues won it 3-0, but it didn’t end that simply. The rough night continued and fights broke out all over the ice, the teams combining for 88 penalty minutes after the final whistle, and 132 minutes total in the game.
Halak made 12 saves before leaving with an injury, and Elliott made 17 in relief as they teamed up to shutout the Sharks. It might be the first time (or at least one of few times) two goalies of the same team were both selected stars of the game, with Halak third star and Elliott second star. Who starts in game 3 is still unknown, as is the status of Jaroslav Halak. Blues third goalie, Jake Allen will be joining them on the trip to San Jose, though Hitchcock said the plan was to have Allen join them even before the injury to Halak, so it’s no indication of how serious his injury is.
Game 3 is Monday at 10 in San Jose.