The St. Louis Blues need to win Game 6 on Wednesday, or their season is over. Who they decide to turn to in net is likely to be a talking point — heated debate, maybe? — leading up to that contest.
Do they go back to Jake Allen for a third consecutive start, despite the fact he allowed four goals on 25 shots in Monday’s Game 5 loss to the San Jose Sharks? Or, will head coach Ken Hitchcock turn once again to Brian Elliott, who started every single game from the series opener of the first round versus Chicago to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.
Hitchcock at least felt that going with Allen over Elliott in Game 4 provided the necessary spark for his team, as the Blues evened the series.
But on Monday, the Sharks, on the strength of two Joe Pavelski goals, eventually overpowered the Blues for the win, moving San Jose one victory away from the Stanley Cup Final.
“I thought he was fine. I don’t know, those are decisions we make in a day or so. But I thought he was fine today. He stopped some point-blank shots, especially early, three times early,” Hitchcock told reporters.
“I don’t know. That’s stuff we’ll talk about tomorrow.”
The San Jose Sharks won a back-and-forth Game 5 to take back the lead in a back-and-forth Western Conference Final, moving one victory away from appearing in the Stanley Cup Final.
After scoring the tying goal late in the second period, Joe Pavelski notched his 12th of the playoffs to give San Jose the lead for good just 16 seconds into the third period.
The Sharks earned a 6-3 victory on the road, in a bounce-back effort from Saturday.
Twice, the Blues grabbed the lead. Troy Brouwer gave them the advantage in the first period, showing off his baseball skills by batting the puck into the net on a rebound. Robby Fabbri gave them another lead in the second period, making Roman Polak pay for snapping on Dmitrij Jaskin along the boards.
But the Blues couldn’t hold on. The Sharks scored twice on three power play opportunities and can now clinch the Western Conference on home ice in Wednesday’s Game 6.
As for the Blues, will Ken Hitchcock change up his starting goaltender again? It’s certainly an aspect of this series that will once again be up for debate leading up to Wednesday’s game.
After Brian Elliott had backstopped the Blues through the first two rounds and started the first three games of this series, Hitchcock decided to start Jake Allen in Game 4.
Allen recorded the win Saturday, and was called upon again in Game 5 as expected, but gave up four goals on 25 shots Monday.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak took serious issue with St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin during the second period, as the two eventually threw off the gloves off in a fight in the corner.
In the process, Polak let his emotions get the better of him — he snapped — by also taking a roughing minor to give the Blues a power play.
The Blues made him — and the Sharks — pay on a blast from Robby Fabbri, who was a game-time decision for Monday’s contest.
The Sharks tied the game at 3-3 before the end of the second period on Joe Pavelski‘s 11th of the playoffs. Pavelski struck again in the third period, giving San Jose the 4-3 lead.
Troy Brouwer has continued his impressive run in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Brouwer gave the St. Louis Blues the lead late in the first period of a pivotal Game 5 on Monday, swatting the puck out of mid-air on a rebound and into the back of the net by San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones.
For the 30-year-old Brouwer, a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, that’s his eighth goal of these playoffs. In his 78 previous post-season games, he had scored a total of seven goals.
The Sharks took the lead just 3:51 into the period on a point shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic that fooled Jake Allen. The goal was initially credited to Tomas Hertl, who was in front of the net, but changed to Vlasic’s goal later on.
The Blues responded with the equalizer just 3:13 later on a goal from Jaden Schwartz.
David Backes and Robby Fabbri are both in the lineup for the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final on Monday. (Click here to watch the game live online.)
There had been some question as to whether they would be ready to play, after their ice time was incredibly limited due to separate ailments in Game 4 of the series.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock made it clear both players would take the pre-game warm-up before a decision would be made.
The series is tied at two games apiece.