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Sharks aim to even series with Blues
(Sports Network) - The San Jose Sharks will try to even the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals at two games apiece when they host the second-seeded St. Louis Blues in tonight's Game 4 at HP Pavilion.
The seventh-seeded Sharks have lost two straight since taking Game 1 in St. Louis and are in danger of falling behind 3-1 in the series tonight. San Jose was 26-12-3 as the host during the regular season and would like to get a win at the Shark Tank before the series shifts back to St. Louis for Game 5 on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Blues, who were 19-16-6 on the road in the regular season, will try to move within one victory of wrapping up this series with their third straight win. The Central Division champions rebounded from a double-overtime loss in the opener with a 3-0 victory in Game 2 and St. Louis grabbed its first lead of this series with Monday's 4-3 win in San Jose.
St. Louis led Game 3 by a 4-1 score early in the third period and was able to hold on for the win. Andy McDonald posted a goal and two assists in the victory, while Brian Elliott made 26 saves for the win.
"I know we're up 2-1 but I know we can play a lot better," said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock. "I know we have individuals who play a lot better, and we will. But I like the fact that we came out in a tough building and played the way we did and got a 4-1 lead. That's a good sign."
Elliott, who combined with Jaroslav Halak in a shutout in Game 2, got the start on Monday as Halak was ruled out due to a lower-body injury. Halak was injured in a collision with teammate Barret Jackman in the second game of the series and was unable to suit up for Game 3, leaving Jake Allen as Elliott's backup. Although Halak has returned to practice, he will not play tonight and Allen will continue to serve as the No. 2 option.
Alexander Steen, Patrik Berglund and Jason Arnott each posted a goal and an assist for the Blues in Game 3.
"Yeah, we weathered the storm there for a bit," Blues center Scott Nichol said. "And then we just kind of did what we're been doing all year, we just grind games down."
Colin White and Logan Couture scored late for the Sharks, while Antti Niemi gave up all four goals on 27 shots in the loss.
St. Louis converted on 3-of-4 power-play opportunities in Game 3 and is 5- for-13 on the man advantage in this series.
"We've got to stay out of the penalty box. That was it," said Sharks captain Joe Thornton, who assisted on all three of San Jose's goals. "Don't take the unnecessary penalty, that's the bottom line."
The Blues are in the playoffs for just the second time in the post-lockout era and entered this postseason coming off their first division title since 2000. St. Louis is hoping to avoid its fate from 12 years ago, when it won the division and claimed the top seed in the West only to get bounced out in the first round by San Jose.
The Sharks, who made it to the Western Conference finals in each of the past two seasons, haven't been ousted in the opening round of the playoffs since losing to Anaheim in the 2009 conference quarterfinals.
04/19 11:23:10 ET
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