Cam Tucker

Returning the favor: Blues chase Jones from Sharks net

In Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, the San Jose Sharks chased Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues net.

On Saturday, in Game 4 of the series, the Blues returned the favor, chasing Martin Jones from the Sharks net after building a 4-0 lead by the midway point of the second period. James Reimer entered the game for San Jose.

Jones, who had posted two straight shutouts prior to Saturday’s game, allowed four goals on 19 shots.

The Blues snapped a scoring drought of 156:59 when Troy Brouwer gave them the early lead in the first period.

Jori Lehtera added to the lead before the period was out, before Kyle Brodziak — who preached for the Blues to, “Play as if our lives are on the line” prior to Game 4 — scored twice in the second period, ending the night for Jones with his second goal.

Video: Brouwer and the Blues (finally) solve Jones to take early lead in Game 4

The St. Louis Blues have finally busted out of their scoring drought in the Western Conference Final, scoring their first goal in 156 minutes and 59 seconds.

On the road versus the San Jose Sharks, and needing a win to even the series, the Blues opened the scoring on a goal from Troy Brouwer at 6:14 of the first period, beating goalie Martin Jones, who had posted two straight shut outs.

The goal was subject to review for a coach’s challenge on a potential offside at the San Jose blue line, but the call on the ice eventually stood.

The Blues continued their strong start. Jori Lehtera added to the lead, beating Jones on a scramble in front — after Jones made an unbelievable save — less than four minutes after the Brouwer goal.

Lightning re-sign Richard, Vermin to one-year, two-way deals

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23:  Tanner Richard, 71st overall pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning, poses for a portrait during Day Two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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On an off day from the Eastern Conference Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning got some work done away from the ice.

The Bolts re-signed forwards Tanner Richard and Joel Vermin to one-year, two-way contracts, the team announced Saturday.

In 71 games this season, the 23-year-old Richard led the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch with 43 assists and 54 points. He’s also Tampa Bay’s third-round pick from the 2012 NHL Draft.

The 24-year-old Vermin, Tampa Bay’s seventh-round pick in 2013, appeared in six games for the Lightning during the regular season, recording one assist. He also had nine goals and 21 points in 37 games for the Crunch.

But his season was disrupted by a hand injury that required surgery while he was on recall with the Lightning in December.

 

WATCH LIVE: Blues at Sharks – Game 4

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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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.”