SAN JOSE – Turns out a goalie change can, apparently, spark a team’s offense.
After getting shut out in back-to-back playoff games for the first time in franchise history, the Blues exploded for six goals on Saturday at SAP Center, laying a beat down on the Sharks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, 6-3.
Goalie Jake Allen, making his first playoff start of the year in place of Brian Elliott, made 31 saves. Conversely, Martin Jones was pulled for the first time after allowing four goals on 19 shots.
The series, which shifts back to St. Louis for Game 5 on Monday, is now tied at two games apiece. San Jose saw its six-game home winning streak abruptly halted.
Troy Brouwer and Kyle Brodziak each scored twice in leading the Blues.
Brouwer got it going in the first, finishing off some good St. Louis puck movement on a power play. He shoveled in a Robby Fabbri pass with Brent Burns off on a tripping minor at 6:14.
Later in the first, Burns’ defense partner, Paul Martin, turned the puck over to a pressuring Fabbri in the defensive zone. Fabbri eventually got the puck back and was denied on an incredible Jones stick save, but Jori Lehtera was in front to hammer in the loose puck at 10:11.
San Jose had a number of early odd-man rushes, including chances by Joonas Donskoi, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski, but couldn’t finish one off against Allen, who was making his first start since April 3.
The Sharks killed off a long Blues power play for nearly three minutes to start the middle frame, including 48 seconds of a five-on-three, but couldn’t gain any momentum from it.
Instead, a careless Joe Thornton turnover on a Sharks power play led to an odd man rush the other way, and Brodziak whirred it through at 6:09 to increase St. Louis’ lead to 3-0.
Brodziak got his second goal at 10:11 after Roman Polak was pressured into a turnover, chasing Jones in favor of James Reimer. St. Louis took its 4-0 lead to the dressing room after two.
San Jose attempted to make it interesting in the third, when Pavelski tipped in a Thornton dish to the front of the net at 1:05, but Brouwer’s second power play marker on a tip from the slot restored the four-goal cushion for the visitors less than four minutes later.
Chris Tierney’s goal at 6:57 of the third period brought the Sharks back to within 5-2, but that’s all they would muster until Alex Pietrangelo’s empty netter with 4:21 left in regulation. Melker Karlsson’s score with 3:32 left capped the scoring on a play in which Joel Edmundson slipped it into his own net.
San Jose went 0-for-5 on the power play, managing just two shots on goal, while surrendering its second shorthanded score of the playoffs.
The Blues were 2-for-4, as the Sharks allowed multiple power play goals-against for the first time in eight games.
The Sharks are 2-for-15 in the series on the power play, while St. Louis is 3-for-13.
Allen improved to 3-4 in his playoff career, playing for the first time since April 3. He had come on in relief of Elliott twice in the previous five games, including Game 3 against San Jose.
Jones fell to 10-6 in the playoffs, while his shutout streak ended at 153:57 on Brouwer’s power play goal. He had made 62 straight saves since the second period of Game 1.
Reimer was playing for the first time since April 5, and saw his first playoff action since 2013 with Toronto. He allowed one goal on seven shots.
The Blues made just one change, swapping Carl Gunnarsson in and Robert Bortuzzo out on defense. Scottie Upshall (upper body) missed his second straight.
Pavelski’s 10th goal set a new franchise record for most goals in one playoff season.
The Blues' David Backes did not play after the first period, but remained on the bench.
Game 5 is on Monday at 5 p.m. in St. Louis. The Sharks are 4-4 on the road in the playoffs, while the Blues are 4-5 at Scottrade Center.
San Jose is 5-9 when a series is tied at two games apiece, including a seven-game series win over Nashville in the second round.