Tue, May 03, 2016 - Page 20 News List

Sharks, Blues win playoff games

AP, SAN JOSE, California

The San Jose Sharks’ Joe Pavelski celebrates after scoring against the Nashville Predators in their NHL Stanley Cup playoff game at the SAP Center in San Jose, California, on Sunday.

Photo: AP

The San Jose Sharks beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 on Sunday night to take a 2-0 series lead in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs after the St Louis Blues defeated the Dallas Stars 4-3 in overtime to level their Western Conference semi-final at 1-1.

Joe Pavelski scored the tiebreaking goal with 2 minutes, 40 seconds left in regulation. Martin Jones stopped 36 shots, while Logan Couture added a power-play goal and Joe Thornton scored an empty-netter to put the Sharks in control as the series shifts to Nashville for Game 3 tonight.

Mattias Ekholm tied the game earlier in the third and Ryan Johansen also scored for Nashville, while Pekka Rinne made 21 saves.

After San Jose blew a one-goal lead earlier in the third, the top line delivered when it mattered most. Joe Thornton slid a cross-ice pass to Matt Nieto, whose initial shot was stopped by Rinne. However, Pavelski batted the rebound in for his sixth goal of the playoffs to give the Sharks the lead.

Thornton scored an empty-net goal that proved crucial when Johansen scored with 3.6 seconds left for Nashville.

“Those guys, I am sure they would be the first to tell you, they did not spend a lot of time in the offensive zone tonight ... but, when we needed a big goal, those guys stepped up and they did it for us,” Couture said.

Rinne had helped keep Nashville in the game long enough to get the equalizer midway through the third. With San Jose leading 1-0, Rinne robbed Nick Spaling with a pad save on a two-on-one with San Jose short-handed.

A few minutes later, Ekholm got the equalizer when his shot from the high slot got past a screened Jones to make it 1-1.

The Sharks scored first following an odd penalty late in the second period. Nashville defenseman Roman Josi tried to rush off the ice after a bad line change to avoid a penalty for having too many men on the ice, but jumped into the Sharks bench because he could not reach his own in time.

“I think we were better team out there tonight,” Ekholm said. “We were just as good as they were tonight. They got a lucky bounce in the end and scored the game winner.”

In Texas, Blues captain David Backes scored off a rebound during a power play 10 minutes, 58 seconds into overtime after Vladimir Tarasenko took a slap shot that defenseman Alex Goligoski blocked.

Dallas forced overtime by erasing a two-goal deficit in the third period, when the Stars outshot St Louis 13-2.

Antti Niemi had stopped 19 consecutive shots since relieving Kari Lehtonen after the first period until Backes scored.

Blues goalkeeper Brian Elliott had 31 saves, including big shots by Jason Spezza and Stars captain Jamie Benn about a minute apart in overtime.

“The thing that impressed me more than anything was the way we played in the overtime — outstanding,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We went into attack mode and stayed on it the whole time.”

The best-of-seven series matching the Western Conference’s top two teams switches to St Louis tonight.

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