Shutout propels Sharks to first ever Western Conference Finals lead

San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE – Deep into the team’s 25th season, the San Jose Sharks claimed a series lead in a conference final for the first time by methodically dispatching the visiting St. Louis Blues 3-0 Thursday night.
Martin Jones made 22 saves to record his second consecutive shut-out.
“He made some key saves early for us,” captain Joe Pavelski said. The Blues pulled their goaltender for almost five minutes at the end of the game but were rebuffed by Jones and the balanced defense.
The Western Conference final, with San Jose holding a 2-1 advantage, continues Saturday at 4:15pm at SAP Center. St. Louis hosts the fifth game on Monday.
Joonas Donskoi delighted the teal-clad fans by both starting and finishing the second Shark scoring play of the night 11:44 into the second period. Tomas Hertl completed the scoring with his second goal of the evening, his fifth of the post-season at 6:09 of the third period.
Donskoi was at the Blues blueline, defending against a St. Louis rush, when he was able to deflect a Blues pass, sending the puck to Logan Couture. As Couture turned into the St. Louis zone with a 2-on-1 rush along with Patrick Marleau, Donskoi found open ice and hustled to join the attack.
“There was a lot of room and I was able to get going right away to join the rush,” said Donskoi.
As Marleau kept one defenseman involved near the right circle, Couture spun back and dropped a pass to Donskoi in the high slot. The rookie whipped a low shot inside the left post to make it 2-0.
The Sharks scored once in the first period, despite trailing 9-7 in shots on net.
Brent Burns ignited the scoring play when he defended Blues center Jori Lehtera near the St. Louis blueline. Burns jabbed the puck back to the centerline where Joe Thornton handled the puck and delivered it to Pavelski near the San Jose zone.
Pavelski was able to pull the puck past the lone Blues defenseman to the unmarked Hertl for the rocket shot from inside the left circle past goaltender Brian Elliott and into the net at the 15:53 mark.
Hertl came up with his second goal of the game and 6th of his career.  Hertl had been in place in front of the Blues net, then moved behind the net to take a Thornton pass and circle into position to throttle Elliott for the 3-0 cushion.
“It’s about our team defense,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said of the team’s ability to post consecutive shut-outs. “It did take us a little while to adjust, maybe five minutes when we were on our heels a little.”

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