Up 3-1 in the series, a win secures the Blues a spot in the second round, but winning that fourth game is easier said than done. The last win has a history of being difficult to achieve. Take the Philadelphia Flyers, for example. After leading their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 and have lost the last two games and now work with a 3-2 lead. The Las Angeles Kings were also leading 3-0 but could not seal the deal in game four and have now fallen to 3-1 in their series. The Blues will be feeling the pressure tonight. After winning two games on the road, they are returning to St. Louis to play in front of home fans.
Boasting a 30-6-5 record at home during the regular season (1-1 postseason), playing at home can work in favor for the Blues. However, the question may be whether or not the Blues can handle the pressure of the home fans expecting a series clinching-win along with the Sharks desperation to continue their quest for the cup. And the Sharks’ desperation should not be underestimated. Unlike the Blues, the Sharks have been fighting for their season since well before the start of the playoffs. The Sharks top lines played a big role in propelling the Sharks into the postseason while the Blues have done an excellent job nullifying the point production of the Sharks’ top lines thus far in the series.
The key to this game could be scoring first. In this series the first team to score has come out on top. The man in net for the Blues will be playing in his fourth career playoff game for the Blues, carrying a 2-0 record and finishing off a shutout after replacing injured goaltender Jaroslav Halak in the first minute of the second period of game number 2. The man between the pipes, Antti Niemi for San Jose has a strong playoff history, backed by a Stanley Cup victory with Chicago in 2010 and a trip to the Western Conference finals in 2011. Both goaltenders will no doubt be put to the test early and often when the Blues and Sharks meet for a possibly series deciding fifth game in St. Louis Saturday night. In front of an energy-packed Scottrade Center crowd hungry for round 2 playoff hockey action, the pressure in the atmosphere will be inescapable.