The St. Louis Blues will try to rebound from a tough double-overtime loss in their playoff opener, as they host the seventh-seeded San Jose Sharks tonight in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals at Scottrade Center.
Martin Havlat scored 3:34 into the second overtime to give the Sharks a 3-2 win over the second-seeded Blues in Game 1 on Thursday. St. Louis certainly needs a bounce-back performance tonight or it could be down 2-0 when the series shifts to San Jose for Games 3 and 4. The Blues were 30-6-5 as the home team during the regular season and 19-16-6 as the guest.
The Blues, who are in the playoffs for just the second time in the post- lockout era, enter this postseason coming off their first Central 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.
In the second extra session, Sharks forward Ryane Clowe chipped a backhand pass from the near the left boards to the inside left circle where Havlat one- timed it home to give the Sharks the series lead.
Havlat had two goals while Andrew Desjardins scored the other for the Sharks, who have made it to the conference finals in each of the past two seasons, but failed to reach the Stanley Cup Finals both times. Antti Niemi made 40 stops in Thursday's win.
Desjardins' goal tied the game with 5:16 left in the third period for San Jose.
"A lot of us have been here before these past few years," said San Jose head coach Todd McClellan. "We've played overtime hockey in the playoffs and we kept calm. To me, that's a sign of veteran leadership."
Patrik Berglund scored both goals for the Blues, while Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves in the loss.
"We were the ones who made a number of big errors tonight and it cost us," said St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock. "We'll take it hard tonight and get ready tomorrow and come back with a better effort on Saturday."
Hitchcock has opted to go with Halak at the start of this series and will stick with the netminder tonight. The Blues had the NHL's best goaltending tandem this season with both Halak and Brian Elliott generating buzz as possible Vezina Trophy candidates.
"He was like our team," Hitchcock said of Halak. "He had some real good moments and then some times, we'd like him better. He was just like our team."
The Sharks were just 17-17-7 as the visiting team during the regular season and would like to take a 2-0 series lead with them back to Northern California. San Jose, which will host Game 3 on Monday, had a strong 26-12-3 record at home in 2011-12.
The first time San Jose and the Blues met in the postseason was in 2000, when the Sharks upset St. Louis in seven games. The teams have split two playoff encounters since with San Jose also taking the most recent meeting during the 2004 conference quarterfinals.