Thursday, May 16, 2019

Blues already focused on Game 4

Moving forward is mindset of players after controversial ending to 
Game 3 that led to Sharks winning in OT puts St. Louis in 2-1 series deficit

ST. LOUIS -- The day after a missed call that didn't go their way in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks, the Blues were once again ready to park the bad and motivate themselves for Game 4 on Friday.

The Blues trail the best-of-7 series 2-1 after losing on what should have been an east call for four officials (referees Marc Joannette and Dan O'Rourke along with linesmen Jonny Murray and Matt MacPherson) but wasn't, but also what is as egregious is that it isn't in the rules to help them get a video look on a play that directly resulted in a goal, a Stanley Cup playoff goal, mind you, one that would have taken all of two seconds to get right.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (19), being pursued from behind in
Game 3 on Wednesday, said the Blues must move on from missed call.

But that never happened when Timo Meier played the puck with his hand to the crease, and Gustav Nyquist fed Erik Karlsson for the game-winner, a game the Blues had in their grasps but let get to overtime in the first place after fumbling away the lead with 1:01 remaining.

That's what will stay in their minds for the time being, but then, it's time to move on.

Game 4 will be here at Enterprise Center on Friday (7 p.m.; NBCSN, KYKY 98.1-FM).

"Yeah, we had chances to close the game out," Blues center Brayden Schenn said. "We didn't. Play happened in overtime, we move on, move forward and look to Game 4.

"I guess (whether that play should be reviewed) is something that's obviously going to be talked about in the summer time or whenever that conversation happens, but at the end of the day, it is what it is. Rules are rules. Call wasn't made, you move on, look forward to Game 4 and tying the series back up."

The Blues can look at a number of good things that happened in that game. For one, they overcame a pair of two-goal deficits (2-0 and 3-1), took a lead with an impressive, aggressive and imposing second period. They scored a power-play goal (finally!), David Perron scored twice, Colton Parayko had three assists, played nearly 30 minutes in light of the Blues losing Vince Dunn (day-to-day, upper-body injury and smothered Sharks center Logan Couture throughout the game until Couture scored the tying goal late (without Parayko on the ice). Sammy Blais (five shots on goal on nine attempts and a team-leading seven hits, the fifth straight game he's led the Blues in hits) was all over the ice, and the fourth line with Oskar Sundqvist, Alexander Steen and Ivan Barbashev made an impact (including Steen's goal) from start to finish.

The Blues played the third period the right way, continuing to press on and extend their one-goal lead. Perron and Schenn were thwarted on Grade A scoring chances, Jaden Schwartz just missed an empty-netter with 1:44 remaining, but the final sequences all but squashed 18 minutes of solid play away.

"Yeah, I think as a team, we're getting way more comfortable in the third period when we have the lead," Schenn said. "When you look at the first series, at times sitting back a little bit, but we had our chances to score. We had our zone time, we had our forechecks. At the end of the day, it's close, it's a game of inches obviously. I had a chance there at the end, Schwartzy hit the post and they come back down and score with a minute left. We feel when we have the lead in the third period, we're comfortable as a team and we're comfortable playing that way."

And then there's the what-ifs, including a pair of Alex Pietrangelo icings that could have prevented the Sharks from having multiple offensive zone draws with a sixth attacker on the ice, or Schwartz scoring from center ice with minimal resistance on the empty-netter.

A failure to close out the game was tough to swallow.

"Obviously there are things that we can do better in the game, there's a lot of good things in the game and we didn't get the bounce," Berube said. "That's how we look at it. We have to move on from it. We've moved on already. That game's over.

"... We scored four goals in a playoff game, we should win it. I think we can do some things better without the puck. Again, some of it is self-inflicted by us on the goals. We've got to clean that up a little bit."

Moving on is the best bet. The officials screwed up. It's done. Over. Move on. It's not going to change the outcome, and the Blues know this.

"... We need to move on after this decision," Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko said. "It's not going to change anyway. We have option to discuss it for next days and be not ready for next game or just step over it. We're down in the series, but we have a chance to tie it again. It's our focus and focus on ourselves. ... There's a lot of stuff around. It's your guys' job to do this too, but (it's) our job to prepare ourselves and I think the best way to prepare is to stay tight and focus on our game and not anything going (on) outside of the team."

It's been questioned whether Joannette was in a proper spot on the ice while he was behind the net, but he seemed to be obstructed by Meier's hand pass and unable to see the play, and Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said it's not an easy job for the officials.

"I've never once looked at where officials are out there when I'm playing," Bouwmeester said. "It's a hard job. They're the best at what they do. You can argue for whatever happened, but bottom line is we let the game get to overtime. Anything happens. I think for us, it's done. There's no sense looking behind you. We've got a game tomorrow. I think what we learned from last night is we played the way we can. The second period was a perfect example of we're fine in this series. That's our focus now. We're not too worried about yesterday."

* NOTES -- Berube said Dunn is day-to-day with his upper-body injury stemming from being hit in the mouth in the first period from a Brenden Dillon shot. Dunn did not return to the game after playing four shifts and 2:13, forcing the Blues to play the majority of the game with five defensemen.

If Dunn misses time, Carl Gunnarsson, who's missed the past three games with a lower-body injury, is ready and available to play. 

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