Korolyuk, a 19-goal scorer in the regular season and one of the
Sharks' most dangerous threats in the playoffs, got his first two
goals of the postseason in a 4-3 victory Tuesday night that put the
St. Louis Blues on the brink of elimination.
"The guy who was our best player last night, Alexander
Korolyuk, had another outstanding game," coach Ron Wilson said.
"It's just kind of a message to the rest of the team that if you
do the little things well and play like a warrior, you'll end up on
Among Korolyuk's Game 3 contributions was a first-period hip
check that knocked Blues forward Ryan Johnson out of the rest of
that game -- and Game 4, as well. Korolyuk played some on the first
line toward the end of Game 3.
Unsung Scott Thornton also got his first two goals for San Jose,
the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. The Sharks have a 3-1
series lead and can close it out in Game 5 Thursday night at home.
"A lot of guys had bounce-back games who might have been
surprised by the intensity of a real playoff game," Wilson said.
"They came up spades tonight."
After losing the first two games, the Blues had a strong showing
in Game 3, outshooting the Sharks 25-8 in the first two periods of
a 4-1 victory. The Sharks regained control in the second period of
Game 4, spending most of the 20 minutes in the Blues' end and
outshooting them 12-5 while scoring twice to snap a 1-1 tie.
"It was a frustrating period," Blues forward Doug Weight said.
"It was there to be won. A couple of lapses, and we paid for
Weight, Mike Danton and Pavol Demitra scored for the Blues, who
have rallied from a 3-1 series deficit only twice in 12 tries in
franchise history -- most recently in 1999. In the third period of
Game 4, the Blues got a little practice for what lies ahead, twice
scoring with a two-goal deficit before falling short.
"That was our best period," coach Mike Kitchen said. "We
would have liked to have started the game that way."
The Blues know it can be done because they blew a 3-1 lead in
the first round against the Canucks last spring.
Ineffectiveness on the power play helped put them in their hole.
The Sharks' penalty killers made it difficult for the Blues even to set up with the man advantage, running their streak to 18 straight
stops before Weight's power-play goal with 4:53 left, four seconds
after Kyle McLaren went off for interference. That cut San Jose's
lead to 4-3.
"Our special teams have done the job all year, and we have to
continue to do it," center Mike Ricci said. "Our power play was
huge tonight, and the PKs were pretty tough also."
The Blues trailed 3-1 after two periods and cut the deficit to
one in the opening minute of the third. Demitra, a 23-goal scorer
in the regular season, converted the second of two swipes at the
puck on a rebound for his first of the playoffs.
"Mel's opportunity summed it up," Weight said. "It was a
great opportunity, and it didn't pay off. It was a big turning
Nabokov knew he'd caught a big break.
"I had no idea where it hit me," Nabokov said. "I felt
something, but I didn't know if it was somebody's stick."
Korolyuk's second goal came on a power play and restored the
two-goal gap. Korolyuk, who had 19 goals in the regular season,
roofed a rebound shot past Chris Osgood at 11:19.
Thornton was scoreless in the first three games of the series
and had only six goals, a career high, and 21 points in the regular
season. He also had zero career playoff goals in 22 games before
beating Osgood in the first and second periods.
He got the game's first goal off Ricci's setup from the
sideboards in the first period, scoring on a one-timer. He also
broke a 1-1 tie on a tip-in early in the second period after
Osgood's save of a high drive by Jonathan Cheechoo left the puck
sitting in the crease.
Danton's first playoff goal had tied it midway through the first
period. He capitalized on a nice move in the slot that paralyzed
Korolyuk's first goal, on a deflection of McLaren's point shot,
gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead midway through the second period.
Sharks C Alyn McCauley missed his third straight game with
an apparent shoulder injury. ... The Sharks had lost eight of their
last 12 road playoff games before beating the Blues. ... It was
Danton's first goal since Feb. 10, ending a 17-game drought; during
his time between scoring, he also missed eight games with a shoulder
injury and was a healthy scratch in five others.