Going into the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Blues drew the Sharks as their first round opponents. The game was exactly what the pundits predicted…a tight checking affair that gave no space to either team. What was not predicted was the outcome. The Sharks shocked the Blues 3-2 in double overtime, as San Jose winger Martin Havlat notched the winner on a shot that fooled Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak.
St. Louis recorded 42 shots on goal, with the Sharks recording 34.
Despite the loss, the Blues bounced back in Game 2, with Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott tag-teaming on the Sharks to shut them out. The final score: 3-0. All was right in the St. Louis world. The only discordant note of the otherwise perfect game was the loss of Halak to a lower body injury. Losing a starter would be a cause of concern for any club; but when your backup has nine shutouts on the season, posting some of the finest numbers in modern history. Elliott filled in for the injured Halak with a flair for the dramatic, preserving the shutout and evening the series at one game apiece.
Elliott got the call for the Blues in Game 3, with Halak’s status still uncertain. Elliott’s status as the best backup in the NHL was solidified as he earned a 4-3 win for the Blues, propelling the St. Louis club to a one game series lead. Three of the four goals were scored on the power play.
In the highest scoring affair of the series to date, the Blues proved that while they are known for defense, their offense isn’t too shabby, either. Andy McDonald led the Blues attack with a goal and two assists. After missing most of the season with various injuries, McDonald leads the Blues with six points in three games.
Few expected the Blues to lose this series, and despite their Game 1 hiccup, the series momentum is turning in favor of St. Louis. The hockey club has demonstrated that they can play stifling defense while lighting the lamp at the other end, and the roster is rounding into form. Game 4 is set for Thursday evening, and one can expect more of the same attention to defense as the Blues push for their first series win in almost a decade.