SAN JOSE — Perhaps there was only one sight uglier than the Sharks’ start to Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the St. Louis Blues on Friday.
It was the one of defenseman Erik Karlsson on the Sharks’ bench late in the third period, lurched over in obvious discomfort.
Karlsson returned late the third after the Sharks had pulled Martin Jones, attempting to tie the game with the extra attacker on the ice. But the Sharks couldn’t beat Blues goalie Jordan Binnington a second time and lost 2-1, setting up a pivotal Game 5 at home on Sunday with the series now tied 2-2.
Sharks coach Pete DeBoer didn’t have a health update after the game on Karlsson, who missed a handful of shifts after he left the ice at a stoppage in play with 9:24 left in regulation time. Karlsson came back with just under two minutes left, a good sign for the Sharks that he was able to gut it out for one final push.
Still, for a player who missed 27 of the Sharks’ final 33 games due to groin and leg injuries, there has to be some concern for how effective Karlsson might be for the rest of this series.
Karlsson has played in all 18 Sharks playoff games to this point, registering 15 points, including the game-winning overtime goal in Game 3. Including Friday’s game, he’s averaged 25 minutes and 32 seconds of ice time per game, second-most on the Sharks behind Brent Burns (28:46).
Friday, Karlsson finished with 25:09 of ice time, had four shots on goal and nine shot attempts. Before this latest malady, his health had improved to the point where any lingering was hardly noticeable midway through the second round.
Sharks defenseman Justin Braun said he didn’t see what might have happened to Karlsson.
“You know, he’s just kind of rolling it,” Braun said. “I’m not really sure what happened there. I don’t know.”
Before Friday, the Sharks were 39-0 this season when allowing two or fewer goals. But they got what they came for in St. Louis — as they took back home ice advantage, setting up a best-of-three for a chance to go to the Stanley Cup Final.
“You’re in the Western Conference final, 2-2, against a really good team. I feel pretty good,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got home ice advantage. I feel good.”
1. ‘Ugly’ start too much to overcome: The Sharks knew the Blues were going to make a push to start Game 4, and St. Louis didn’t disappoint, scoring 35 seconds into the first period after a Brent Burns giveaway. It’s the third time in these playoffs the Sharks have allowed a goal in the first minute of play.
The Sharks fell behind 2-0 on a goal credited to Tyler Bozak, although it appeared the puck appeared to be inadvertently kicked in by Braun.
“Yeah, you know, it’s something we’ve kind of had a problem with this playoffs so far,” Braun said. “It’s been awhile since that’s happened, but we’ve got to come out with a …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Sports