Game 3 was extremely close between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues in almost every way possible. The shots were dead even 32 apiece, the face-offs were 34-31 in favor of the Blues, each team only gave up one power play, and of course, at the end of regulation, the score was knotted up 4-4. The game was decided in overtime after a controversial hand pass by the Sharks to win the game and take control of the series 2-1.
Game 4 will be in St. Louis, and the pressure is back on the Blues. These teams have shown that they both deserve to be this far in the playoffs and that they are very evenly matched. The Blues will have to focus on the task at hand and move on from the ending of Game 3 fast before they let the series get away from them.
The Sharks, on the other hand, are in a good spot now but don’t want to waste it. Being up 2-1 in a series is nice, but taking both games in St. Louis and having a 3-1 lead would allow the Sharks a chance to end the series at home in San Jose where they have been very good this year, specifically against the Blues.
Sharks Stars Shine Again
Joe Thornton, Erik Karlsson, and Logan Couture have all been household names for the Sharks this year, and all showed up big again in Game 3. Couture leads the NHL playoffs in scoring while Karlsson leads in assists. Thornton and Karlsson each tallied two goals in Game 3, while Couture added one goal, bringing his playoff total to 14.
The Sharks’ formula in Game 4 should be a heavy dose of the same attack. Look for the Sharks to keep it simple and keep getting the puck to their stars. The top lines are getting the job done, and as they say, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Blues Fall Just Short
Despite the loss, the St. Louis Blues looked like the better hockey team for most of the game Wednesday night. An overtime finish in a close game does not separate teams much as far as a clear-cut favorite, but the Blues were the more aggressive team for most of the game. The Blues’ ability to play physical and outhit the Sharks 43-21 along with the overall tempo, you have to chalk this up to a game the Sharks were just able to steal away at the end.
Moving forward, the Blues need to lock down the Sharks’ top line and limit mistakes as much as possible. Letting Thornton, Couture, and Karlsson grab six points on their ice is not a way to get closer to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Game 4 Prediction
Game 4 will be played in St Louis on Friday. I expect the Blues to get back on track and get the series tied before going back to San Jose for Game 5. The Sharks appear to have the better goal scorers, but I believe the Blues have the better goalie in Jordan Binnington, and that could keep this series tight all the way to a Game 7. Take the St. Louis Blues and bet the over.