ST. LOUIS — Just when it looked like the Blues’ water might be too deep for them, the San Jose Sharks recovered and beat St. Louis 5-4 in overtime Wednesday to take a 2-1 lead in the National Hockey League’s Western Conference Final.
Erik Karlsson scored the winner at 5:23 of overtime to make it a great night for the Sharks, but another controversial one for National Hockey League officiating.
Sharks winger Timo Meier appeared to glove the puck to teammate Gustav Nyqvist, who relayed it across the slot for Karlsson on the winner.
Referees Marc Joanette and Dan O’Rourke huddled with linesmen Jonny Murray and Matt MacPherson but allowed the goal to stand. Blues forward Brayden Schenn smashed his stick against the glass and St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington skated the length of the ice to complain to the officials.
After blowing a 3-1 lead by allowing three straight goals by the Blues in the second period, the Sharks needed a desperation goal from Logan Couture with 59.6 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime.
Couture, whose 48 Stanley Cup playoff goals since 2010 are second in the NHL to Alex Ovechkin’s 50, got body position on Blues centre Ryan O’Reilly and swept in the rebound from Joe Pavelski’s point-blanck redirect to tie it 4-4.
The Blues had twice iced the puck with Sharks goalie Martin Jones on the bench for an extra skater. Jones also made his best two saves of the game, against David Perron and Brayden Schenn, in the third period to keep San Jose within a goal.
After falling behind 3-1 on Joe Thornton’s second goal of the game early in the second period, the Blues swarmed back for three straight before the frame was over.
Vladimir Tarasenko, who had just one even-strength goal in the playoffs, started the comeback at 4:05, scoring from left wing with a wrist shot that ticked the stick of Sharks defenceman Justin Braun.
St. Louis’ Perron, whose delay-of-game puck flip into the stands a few minutes earlier was missed by the four officials, scored twice in two-and-a-half minutes to give his team the lead.
He tied it 3-3 at 16:03 when given time and space to pick the short-side top corner on goalie Martin Jones after Braun, put under pressure by defence partner Erik Karlsson, iced the puck and the Blues controlled it from the ensuing faceoff.
With San Jose’s top defenceman, Brent Burns, in the penalty box for hooking Oskar Sundqvist on a scoring chance, Perron put St. Louis ahead at 18:42. Screening his goalie, Braun again seemed unlucky as Perron’s slapshot appeared to clip him as it went through his legs and past Jones’ blocker.
There may have been bad luck on a couple of the goals, but the period featured a lot of bad play by San Jose defencemen, who struggled to make the reads on rushes and generally were chasing opposing forwards.
It was a dramatic surge by the Blues, who were outplayed in the first period when they trailed 2-0 and were outshot 9-4 on home ice.
Karlsson, playing on one leg after missing 27 games late in the regular season due to a groin injury, opened scoring for the Sharks at 13:37 of the first period when he beat Blues goalie Jordan Binnington through a screen.
Thornton, the 39-yar-old Shark who was torched on the winning goal in Monday’s 4-2 St. Louis win in Game 2, made it 2-0 at 16:58, winning a race to the puck in the corner, then skating to the front of the net where he collected a loose puck from Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s point shot and scored with a backhand.
After going the previous eight games with only one assist of offence, Thornton scored again 1:36 into the second period, converting a quick centring pass from Kevin Labanc when Binnington was slow to get across his goalmouth.
Coming just 18 seconds after Alex Steen scored for St. Louis – Karlsson was caught up ice – Thornton’s goal looked like a momentum-killer to the Blues.
But the Blues were the NHL’s best team the last three months of the season. The Sharks may have trouble stopping them now.
Originally published at https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/sharks-escape-game-3-controversial-overtime-win-blues/