(The Sports Xchange) - Troy Brouwer and Kyle Brodziak each scored two goals to power the St. Louis Blues to a 6-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, evening the best-of-seven Western Conference finals series at two games apiece.
Blues goaltender Jake Allen, making his first start of the postseason, turned away 31 of San Jose’s 34 shots, sending the series back to St. Louis on even terms for Game 5 on Monday.
Brouwer, who had totaled five goals in the Blues’ first 17 games, ended Sharks goalie Martin Jones’ two-game shutout streak with a one-timer from in front of the net 6:14 into the game.
He came back to add the clincher at the 3:55 mark of the third period, deflecting a shot from the point by Alexander Steen past James Reimer, who had replaced Jones in the second period.
The power-play goal, which came seven seconds after Sharks winger Joel Ward had gotten called for delay of game, gave St. Louis a 5-1 lead.
Allen easily converted the four-goal lead into a victory from there, although he came under constant assault from a desperate Sharks team in the final period.
San Jose scored three times in the third period, first on a Joe Pavelski tip-in of a Joe Thornton shot just 1:05 in, and not too long later when Chris Tierney’s shot from the right side bounced in off the back of Allen.
Tierney’s goal, his fourth of the playoffs, was unassisted and got San Jose back within 5-2 with still 13:03 to play.
But Allen held on from there, despite surrendering a goal with 3:32 remaining that was credited to San Jose’s Melker Karlsson but was actually pushed into the net by St. Louis defenseman Joel Edmundson.
That made the final 6-3, with the Blues having scored an empty-net goal 49 seconds earlier on an Alex Pietrangelo shot that went three-quarters the length of the ice.
Both of Brodziak’s goals, his first and second of the playoffs, came in the second period, during which St. Louis went ahead 4-0.
The back-breaker for the Sharks occurred early in the second period, after they had staved off a five-on-three disadvantage while already trailing 2-0.
An interference penalty on Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk handed San Jose a golden opportunity to get back in the game. But again, sloppy play killed the Sharks.
The Blues not only held San Jose without a shot for the first 1:58 of the penalty kill, but also used Sharks turnovers to create a pair of two-on-one short-handed opportunities.
San Jose’s Logan Couture stopped the first run when he blocked a shot by Steen, but there was no denying Brodziak on the second after he took a nifty pass from Jaden Schwartz and blasted it over Jones’ right shoulder for a 3-0 lead at the 6:09 mark.
It was Brodziak’s first goal of the postseason and Schwartz’s 10th assist.
Just 3:40 later, it was a blowout, with Brodziak going upper deck again, this time over Jones left shoulder to make it a four-goal game.
Magnus Paajarvi, who stole the puck, and Dmitrij Jaskin, who delivered a perfect pass from behind the net, were given assists on the goal, postseason firsts for each.
Down 4-0, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer pulled Jones, who had faced 19 shots. He was replaced by Reimer, who hadn’t seen any action in San Jose’s first 14 playoff games.
San Jose nearly got on the scoreboard in the final minute of the period, but Allen made his best save of the game to that point, a skate save on a Thornton redirection from just in front of the net.
Allen got tested early, starting with shots by Paul Martin and Pavelski in the first two minutes.
He saved both easily, then got his first serious test when Joonas Donskoi fired from point-blank range in the game’s fifth minute. Again, Allen was up to the task.
A tripping penalty on Sharks defenseman Brent Burns turned the momentum of the period in the Blues’ favor at the 5:00 mark.
The Blues, who had gotten off just six shots in the first five minutes, blasted four in the first 63 seconds of the man-advantage situation, then converted the fifth when Troy Brouwer beat Jones to his right with a one-timer from the slot for the game’s first goal at 6:14.
Robby Fabbri and Paul Stastny were credit with assists on Brouwer’s sixth goal of the postseason
Despite a slow start, the Blues enjoyed a 13-10 shot advantage in the first period.
Editing by Peter Rutherford