<
>

Rapid Reaction: St. Louis Blues 6, San Jose Sharks 3

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It took four games, but the St. Louis Blues truly announced their presence in the Western Conference finals. They snapped their shutout streak and played the kind of physical, dominant hockey that got them this far while winning 6-3 over the San Jose Sharks to even the series at 2-2.

How it happened: The Blues came out flying in full-on desperation mode in the first period and just kept on going after Troy Brouwer scored the first goal for the Blues since the first period of Game 1. He would later add a second.

For the first time all series, the Blues generated consistent offensive pressure, navigating their way successfully through the neutral zone in a way they hadn’t been able to do at all in this series previously.

Jori Lehtera scored the second first-period goal for the Blues after Martin Jones made an incredible stick save on Robby Fabbri that Lehtera followed up with his third goal of the playoffs.

After the Sharks' power play gave the Blues fits earlier in this series, the Blues effectively shut down the Sharks' power play on Saturday and scored a back-breaking, short-handed goal when Kyle Brodziak converted on a 2-on-1 with Jaden Schwartz. Brodziak, who entered the game with three career playoff goals in 44 games, would score again in the second period.

The one piece of bad news for the Blues was an apparent injury to captain David Backes, who sat on the bench for the entire second period and part of the third.

What it means: St. Louis finally arrived in the Western Conference finals. The Blues truly hadn’t played a game in which they were this dialed in since eliminating the Chicago Blackhawks, and this showed just how good the Blues can be when they play with desperation.

Blues goalie Jake Allen was solid when tested early and certainly earned another start after Hitchcock made the switch from veteran Brian Elliott to spark his team. Allen finished with 31 saves in earning his first playoff win since 2015. It worked, as did the other adjustments, including a shuffling of the Blues lines, and it’s now clear this series will be a long one. With the way the Sharks played previously, that was in question until Game 4.