St. Louis, MO – It took 10 years, but the Blues finally are back in the conference semifinals.
Jamie Langenbrunner and David Perron scored 45 seconds apart in the third period, boosting St. Louis to a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals. Andy McDonald added an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Brian Elliott turned aside 26 shots for the second-seeded Blues, who won the final four games of the series and advanced to the second round for the first time since the spring of 2002, when they beat Chicago before losing to Detroit in the second round.
Joe Thornton scored in the final minute of the second period for the Sharks, who lost in the conference finals each of the previous two years. Antti Niemi made 24 saves.
Down by a goal, Langenbrunner tied it at the 11:16 mark. A shot from above the right circle from Scott Nichol caromed off the glove of Niemi. Langenbrunner charged in and deposited the rebound in the net.
Perron then used a quick flip of the stick to send in the winning goal on a deflection. Alex Pietrangelo sent a shot from the right circle, but Perron got his stick down to send the puck by Niemi.
McDonald took a delay of game penalty for the Blues with 4 1/2 minutes left when he sent the puck over the glass, but despite applying pressure in the offensive zone the Sharks were turned away.
Just as the penalty expired, Joe Pavelski's attempt from in close was stopped by Elliott with 2:25 remaining.
The Sharks pulled Niemi with over a minute left and San Jose called timeout with 55.4 seconds to go.
McDonald got a loose puck in the neutral zone and sent a backhander into the net with 38.2 seconds left, setting off a wild celebration.
Elliott, who started the last three games in net for St. Louis after Jaroslav Halak was forced to leave Game 2 with a lower-body injury, made 11 saves in the last period.
St. Louis had just three shots in the opening period and then fell behind on Thornton's goal with 41 seconds left in the second. Daniel Winnik fed the puck from behind the net to Thornton, who scored from below the left circle.
The Blues, who won the Central Division title this season for the first time since 1999-2000, went 0-for-2 on the power play in Game 5...Both teams were 0- for-2 on the power play.