Posted April 20, 2012 on AP on Fox
Ottawa_senators_v_e752
No team in the playoffs is deeper at goalie than the St. Louis Blues. It's a big reason they are one win away from their first playoff series triumph in a decade. Brian Elliott is more of a 1A than Jaroslav Halak's backup. Elliott led the NHL with a 1.56 goals-against average, including nine shutouts. He's been carrying the load since Halak was sidelined by a lower-body injury early in their first-round series against the San Jose Sharks. Elliott, who wasn't assured of a job in training camp, was just 1:07 shy of a shutout in Game 4. The 2-1 victory gave St. Louis a 3-1 series lead coming back home for Game 5 on Saturday night. He was far from satisfied after allowing Joe Thornton's late goal Thursday night. ''That makes me mad, spitting a rebound out like that late in the game,'' Elliott said. ''Luckily we scored two and they only had one.'' Luck has had little to do with the series so far. The Blues swept the Sharks in the regular season, with Elliott and Halak each posting a shutout, and San Jose has scored only seven goals thus far. The Blues can wrap it up in Game 5 on Saturday night in St. Louis, almost certainly with Elliott in goal given Halak was wearing a walking boot prior to Game 4. They were the NHL's best team at home during the regular season with franchise-record 30 victories and just six regulation losses. After dropping Game 1 at home in double-overtime, they silenced the Shark Tank with a pair of victories. ''They're not going quietly,'' coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''We recognize how close these games are and how hard the next one's going to be. But this is a new experience for us. I think dealing with the pressure of winning and closing a team out, we're going to have to work through it.'' Teams holding a 3-1 lead have won 228 of 252 NHL series, according to Stats LLC, although the underdogs have prevailed more frequently in recent years. The list of 24 teams that have scaled that mountain includes the Lightning last year over the Penguins, the Flyers over the Bruins and Canadiens over Capitals in 2010. Defenseman Barret Jackman is the lone holdover from the Blues' 2003 team that blew a 3-1 lead against Vancouver in the first round. Obviously, there's more pressure on the Sharks, who made it to the Western Conference final the last two seasons. They can't worry about the hole they're in, just concentrate on Game 5. Coach Todd McLellan liked most everything about Game 4 except the score. ''I think there's going to be a team that comes back from 3-1 down in this playoff series and there are a number of us at it and it may as well be us,'' McLellan said. ''Let's go there and play and see what happens. I think if we get this kind of effort again and this type of game we have a chance of coming out ahead.'' The Blues' last playoff win was over the Blackhawks in the first round in 2002, but they've hardly looked like postseason neophytes, standing up to the Sharks' physical tactics early in the series and playing with the lead with scoring coming from everywhere. The speedy Andy McDonald has been a standout with three goals and four assists, but checking forward B.J. Crombeen, who scored the first goal in Game 4, had only one in the regular season. The Blues have been disciplined, too, waiting for the Sharks to slip up and covering for their own mistakes with airtight penalty killing. They've held the Sharks' power play to 2 for 15 and are a decisive 6 for 16 with the man advantage in the series. Yet to fully surface for the Sharks is the playoff-tested team that closed fast in the regular season to earn the seventh seed in the Western Conference. After taking Game 1, San Jose had won 46 playoff games since the Blues beat them once in a five-game series in 2004. Goalie Antti Niemi won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010 and has played well enough with a .912 save percentage. Joe Thornton and Logan Couture each has a goal and three assists, but Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski are scoreless. ''They have to find a way to get on the score sheet, and they've got a game to do that,'' McLellan said Friday. ''For us to have success, our go-to players have to find a way.'' The Sharks won a couple of must games last year in the playoffs. If they can take Game 5, some of the pressure shifts to the Blues. ''I don't think anybody believes we're going to do it, which is fine,'' forward Dan Boyle said. ''It's going to be a tough task. We all know that. It's going to be a very difficult task, but it can be done. It's not impossible.''
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Blues G Elliott to start Game 4 vs. Sharks

St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott will make his second consecutive start on Thursday in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series against the seventh-seeded San Jose Sharks. Coach Ken Hitchcock said that Jaroslav Halak hasn't improved significantly enough with his lower body injury, which was suffered during the second period of Game 2. Defenseman Barret Jackman...

Blues end decade-long playoff drought

ST. LOUIS It was a celebration ten years in the making, but took just 45 seconds to begin. Trailing 1-0 in the third period and looking more and more like they might be headed back to San Jose for a Game 6 Monday night, the St. Louis Blues showed why times are changing under the shadows of the Arch. The Blues erased the deficit with two goals in a span of just 45 seconds, adding...

Blues take 3-1 series lead with win

Brian Elliott made 24 saves, B.J. Crombeen and Andy McDonald scored and the St. Louis Blues moved one win away from the second round of the playoffs, beating the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in Game 4 on Thursday night to take a 3-1 series lead. Patrik Berglund and David Perron each assisted on both goals for the Blues, who can win their first playoff series since 2002 by beating the Sharks...

Blues close out Sharks, advance to West Semis

Jamie Langenbrunner and David Perron scored 45 seconds apart midway through the third period as St. Louis rallied to a 3-1 victory over San Jose to win the Western Conference quarterfinal series in five games.Andy McDonald added an empty-net goal, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo notched two assists and Brian Elliott made 26 saves for the Blues, who recorded their first playoff series...

Blues edge Sharks in Game 4, take 3-1 lead in series

B.J. Crombeen and Andy McDonald scored while Brian Elliott came within 67 seconds of his first career playoff shutout as the St. Louis Blues claimed a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their Western Conference quarterfinal series. Patrik Berglund and David Perron each notched two assists for the Blues, who can record their first playoff...

Blues 2, Sharks 1

Brian Elliott made 24 saves, B.J. Crombeen and Andy McDonald scored and the St. Louis Blues moved one win away from the second round of the playoffs, beating the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in Game 4 on Thursday night to take a 3-1 series lead. Patrik Berglund and David Perron each assisted on both goals for the Blues, who can win their first playoff series since 2002 by beating the Sharks...

Blues beat Sharks in Game 5 to win series

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Jamie Langenbrunner and David Perron scored in a 45-second span in the third period, and St. Louis Blues woke up in time to put away the San Jose Sharks 3-1 and wrap up the first-round series in five games Saturday night. Joe Thornton scored in the final minute of the second period for San Jose, and the Sharks were seemingly in control before the flurry that ended...

Jeff Quirin: Quick Blues News Update: Black Aces & Prospect Accolades + Calder Thoughts

Calling in the Black Aces In light of head coach Ken Hitchcock’s comments over the last two days regarding fatigue, travel and such, the addition of fresh bodies from the reserve makes a whole mess of sense. Per the team announcement: ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced Friday the club has recalled forwards...

Blues ride resilience into second round

ST. LOUIS Their resilience returned. The trait has defined the St. Louis Blues' surprising season more than any other. It's why they earned their first Central Division title since the 1999-2000 season, it's why they whipped the San Jose Sharks in two games at HP Pavilion earlier in the week, and it's why they clinched the franchise's first playoffs-series victory...

Blues 3, Sharks 1

Jamie Langenbrunner and David Perron scored in a 45-second span in the third period, and St. Louis Blues woke up in time to put away the San Jose Sharks 3-1 and wrap up the first-round series in five games Saturday night. Joe Thornton scored in the final minute of the second period for San Jose, and the Sharks were seemingly in control before the flurry that ended their season....

The Front is Better Than the Backes

Right off the bat it doesn’t look like David Backes had a bad season:  24G/30A/17PPP/+15/101PIM/234SOG….  Well actually, on second glance, that is a pretty good season…  “Why do you hate David Backes?”  I don’t hate David Backes VTB.  In fact I’m not even sure why I thought my preseason “bust” prediction for him was accurate….  Aaaahhh, I see.  Here is...

Video- Blues Take A 3-1 Series Lead Over The Sharks

This goal by Andy McDonald, his 3rd of the series, proved to be the game winner. Final score- St. Louis 2, San Jose 1.

NHL Playoff Observations -- Weekend Edition

Just a few things that caught my eye ... Claude Giroux -- the best player in the world. Or so says his coach, Peter Laviolette. And after that first shift on Sunday ... Jaroslav Halak who? Brian Elliot owns the blue paint right now even if Halak returns to practice Monday. ssssssSSSSSSS. That's the sound of the fuse that has been lit in San Jose. It...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.