The St. Louis Blues dropped an ugly one Tuesday night as the San Jose Sharks evened the Western Conference Final series with a 4-0 win.
In Game 2, the Blues lacked some discipline, taking five penalties, three of which were stick infractions. The Sharks answered by scoring twice on the power play and although this series is 1-1 heading back to San Jose, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock says his team is lucky to just be tied and that they need to be much better against such a tough opponent.
“I think we didn’t play very well,” Hitchcock said. “And we’ve seen this at home for a while. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure the players even know why. But we seem to want to play a little different at home than we do on the road. And we got away with it in Game 1 and didn’t get away with it today at all. They were much better than us in probably every aspect, especially on special teams. And we tried to play the same way we did in Game 1 and didn’t get away with it.”
The Blues have a 4-5 record at home in the playoffs so far, which should be surprising for a team that’s advanced to the West final. For those counting, that makes for a 5-2 record on the road.
In Game 1, St. Louis was outshot 32-23 by the Sharks, and although they held the advantage in this stat in Game 2, the only took five shots in the second period and let the advantage slip away through penalties and giving the Sharks a shot with the man advantage.
“When you want to play a different way than the game’s going to allow you to play then you can go two ways, you can dig in and go the right way or you can become frustrated at times and then try freelancing, or in our case, take penalties,” Hitchcock said. “We got frustrated, we took penalties, and then regrouped ourselves in the third period finally. But, when you’re down 2-0 the other team’s able to sit on it a little bit.”
There’s little question that through two games in this series, the Sharks have been the better team, and not just because of the man advantage. At 5-on-5 they have mostly carried the play and forced the Blues to, as Hitchcock said, get frustrated and unable to get through a suffocating defence.
Meanwhile, the Sharks are still getting their chances and head home with an opportunity to blow this series wide open.
“You can’t have the second periods or sometimes the starts to games that we’ve had in the last two games and expect to beat good teams,” Hitchcock continued. “This is the third round and this is two really good teams going at it.
“They’ve got their A game going right now and it’s our job to catch up. We have played two B games and I think at times, quite frankly, we’ve been fortunate its 1-1.”