(The Sports Xchange) - Jori Lehtera scored an unassisted goal midway through the second period to break a 1-1 tie and the St. Louis Blues hung on for a 2-1 win on Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference final against the San Jose Sharks.
Brian Elliott stopped 31 of 32 shots, including all 16 shots in the second period, when they out-shot the Blues 16-5. For the game, the Sharks out-shot the Blues 33-23. He also made several big saves in the final two minutes after San Jose pulled goalie Martin Jones for an extra attacker.
Lehtera scored the only goal of the period at 9:15 when he intercepted a pass from Brent Burns in the neutral zone and fired a shot past Jones on only the second shot of the period by the Blues. It was only his second goal in 15 playoff games this season.
The Blues, playing in the conference final for the first time since 2001, scored the game’s first goal at 15:04 of the opening period on a power-play. David Backes deflected a shot by Kevin Shattenkirk past Jones for his seventh goal of the playoffs.
The goal came while Logan Couture was serving a minor penalty for tripping Robby Fabbri.
Patrick Berglund had appeared to put the Blues in front earlier in the period, but the goal was waived off because of goalie interference. The call was confirmed after a video review. It was the third time in the playoffs the Blues had an apparent goal disallowed, the first two coming on coach’s challenges in the opening two rounds that the play was offsides.
Just 34 seconds after Backes’ goal, the Sharks tied the game on Tomas Hertl’s deflection of a shot by Burns that got past Elliott, his third goal of the playoffs.
One of Elliott’s best saves after that came on Joe Pavelski, his former teammate at the University of Wisconsin, in the second period. He also made a sliding save of a shot by Patrick Marleau as the Blues killed off a San Jose power-play in the third period.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be Tuesday night in St. Louis.
Editing by Peter Rutherford