Cam Tucker

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 19:  Nick Spaling #16 of the San Jose Sharks checks Robert Bortuzzo #41 of the St. Louis Blues in game three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 19, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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WATCH LIVE: Blues at Sharks – Game 4

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The San Jose Sharks can take a stranglehold lead in the Western Conference Final with a win in Game 4 at SAP Center on Saturday, while the visiting Blues will look to even the series heading back to St. Louis. You can catch tonight’s game on NBC (7:15 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Brodziak: Blues should ‘play as if our lives are on the line’

Praise for the Thornton, Pavelski and Hertl line

Couture says Sharks have been ‘under-appreciated all season’

Blues will start Jake Allen in Game 4 of Western Conference Final

 

 

Hitch: Tarasenko is ‘learning hard lessons’ as Blues struggle to score

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 19:  Logan Couture #39 of the San Jose Sharks controls the puck against Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues in game three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 19, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The St. Louis Blues haven’t scored a goal in the last 150 minutes and 45 seconds of this Western Conference Final. They’ve been shut out in consecutive games and now trail the series 2-1 to the San Jose Sharks.

As a team, the Blues have gone into a funk.

Among those struggling to produce is 24-year-old Vladimir Tarasenko, who had a 40-goal regular season and has seven goals and 13 points in these playoffs but hasn’t recorded a point in three games of this series.

“The thing that could help him, we can’t give him, which is more experience. Can’t give it to him,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters following Thursday’s defeat. “He’s learning hard lessons, like any young player.

“As you experience this as a younger player, you’re going to have to learn to fight through a lot if you expect to score. We would like him to learn that lesson a day from now, but we’re not sure on the time frame.

“Some guys never learn it. Some guys can’t do it. Some guys learn that lesson and they really become accomplished players, especially scoring players. But he’s going to have to fight through everything if he expects to score a goal and contribute offensively.”

So far in this series, Sharks goalie Martin Jones hasn’t faced more than 26 shots in a single game. He stopped 22 shots in Game 3.

On Thursday, Hitchcock pulled Brian Elliott after he allowed three goals on 14 shots, bringing in Jake Allen to finish off the remainder of the game.

With Game 4 on Saturday, the Blues bench boss admits he may be facing another decision on who his starting goalie will be for that contest.

“Yeah, I’m going to think about that one,” he said. “Got two good goalies. Pretty good choice. Can’t lose on either one.”
     

Video: ‘It’s a pretty easy job,’ says Thornton of playing with Pavelski, Hertl

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 19:  (2nd R) Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates with Justin Braun #61, Marc-Edouard Vlasic #44, Joe Pavelski #8 and Joe Thornton #19 after his second goal in game three of the Western Conference Finals against the St. Louis Blues during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 19, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins have the HBK Line. The San Jose Sharks have a line with Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl.

That trio provided more problems for the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on Thursday. They combined for six points, with Hertl scoring twice, including the winner in the first period, as San Jose recorded a 3-0 win to take a 2-1 series lead.

Apparently, the veteran Thornton has the easy part in this partnership.

“Well, the line played exactly how they played all year for us, which has led the way with how we want to play, the identity of our team,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told reporters.

“When your best players are your best forecheckers, the best back-checkers, the first guys to block shots, stop and defend in your own end, that bleeds through the rest of the group.”

Meanwhile, the Sharks have now won six games in a row on home ice in these playoffs. That includes back-to-back shutouts dating back to their second-round series with the Predators. The Sharks’ home record ranked 23rd in the entire league during the regular season.

Sharks stifle the Blues, take series lead with Game 3 victory

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Following a 4-0 loss in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock opined that his team was fortunate this series was tied at a game apiece.

It will be interesting, to say the least, to hear his assessment of his team after a 3-0 Game 3 loss in San Jose, which has given the Sharks a 2-1 lead in this series and put them two wins away from an appearance in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Brian Elliott was pulled in the third period, after allowing three goals on 14 shots. Tomas Hertl scored twice for San Jose, his second of the night chasing Elliott from the crease and essentially dashing any hopes the Blues may have had of a third-period comeback.

Hitchcock again pulled the goalie — this time Jake Allen — for the extra attacker with 5:31 remaining in the final period, desperate for a goal. Scoring has become a problem for the Blues in this round.

His team hasn’t scored since the 9:15 mark of the second period of Game 1 — that’s 150:45 without a goal — and it wasn’t as if the Blues really threatened San Jose goalie Martin Jones on Thursday.

Jones stopped all 22 shots he faced for his second consecutive shutout.

The Sharks played a stifling game and were opportunistic, taking advantage of St. Louis turnovers.

Game 4 is Saturday. The Sharks can take a stranglehold of the series.

 

Sharks chase Elliott from Blues net

The San Jose Sharks chased goalie Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues net before the midway point of the third period in Game 3 on Thursday.

The Sharks, looking to take the lead in the Western Conference Final, grabbed a 3-0 lead in Game 3, with Tomas Hertl ending Elliott’s night at 6:09 of the third period. Hertl opened the scoring as well, on a perfect slap shot to the top corner, beating Elliott glove side.

Elliott stopped 11 of 14 shots faced. Jake Allen entered the game in relief.

Meanwhile, the Blues haven’t scored a goal since the 9:15 mark of the second period of Game 1.