SAN JOSE — Payback can be sweeter than honey, but on the receiving end, it’s like sour milk.
After a game of sucker punches and cracked helmets, the St. Louis Blues delivered a serious blow to the Sharks with the power play — not fists — in a 4-3 win at HP Pavilion on Monday. The Game 3 win returned home-ice advantage in the first-round Stanley Cup playoff matchup to the No. 2-seeded Blues.
Retribution was the buzzword going into Monday’s game after a rough and rowdy Game 2 in St. Louis on Saturday. The Sharks were fuming about an end-of-game punch that broke Dominic Moore’s nose and the Blues were crying foul over a T.J. Galiardi hit that cracked center Andy McDonald’s helmet.
But Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said the only payback that works this time of year is to “win the hockey game.” His team did just that by going 3-for-4 on the power play.
Special teams were a major X-factor coming into the series because the Blues’ defensive trap clogs up the neutral zone, making even strength scoring chances difficult to manufacture. As a result, the Sharks need to capitalize when they get the man advantage.
After three games, San Jose’s power play is a lethargic 2-for-11, while the Blues, a team that didn’t even have a 55-point scorer this season, has gone 5-for-13.
The Blues opened the scoring at 14:31 of the first period when center Patrik Berglund put home a Carlo Colaiacovo blast that ricocheted off of the post. The Sharks tied it with only their second power-play goal of the series less than two minutes later when Brent Burns back-handed the puck over goalie Brian Elliott’s blocker.
But the Blues broke the game open in the second period with an even-strength goal from McDonald and another power-play goal from Jason Arnott. Alexander Steen added his first goal of the playoffs on power play in the opening minute of the third to make the game 4-1.
The Sharks got late goals from Colin White and Logan Couture, but ran out of time before they could send the game to overtime.
(St. Louis leads series 2-1)
Game 1: Sharks 3, Blues 2 (2 OT)
Game 2: St. Louis 3, Sharks 0
Game 3: St. Louis 4, Sharks 3
Game 4: Thursday at Sharks, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5: Saturday at St. Louis, 4:30 p.m.
Game 6: Monday at Sharks, TBD*
Game 7: April 26 at St. Louis, TBD*