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Blues and Sharks skate in game 4 of the semifinals

Blues Pat Maroon (left) and Tyler Bozak celebrate Bozak's goal during the first period of the game between the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks in the semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Friday, May 17, 2019, at the Enterprise Center. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

The Blues got even in the Western Conference final with a nail-biting 2-1 win over San Jose in Game 4 on Friday night at Enterprise Center.

The Blues came out strongly in the first period of Game 4, scoring a goal just 35 seconds in and then adding a power-play goal late in the first period. That was their only scoring for the game, and then it was a matter of hanging on over the final 40 minutes.

If there was any aftereffects of the way Game 3 ended, they were clearly gone by the time Ivan Barbashev scored in the first minute.

"I think it kind of just set the tone," center Ryan O'Reilly said. "We wanted to come out and jump on them and respond the right way and we did. That takes a lot but that's what we have to do every time."

“We wanted to have a really good start," said forward David Perron, "and we sure did with Barbie’s goal and added to it with with Bozie’s. It was a really good first period. We back off after that, but we got the win and that’s what matters.”

"It was exactly the opposite of what we wanted," said San Jose's Tomas Hertl. "We started slow, turned over too many pucks, they came hard and we were kind of lucky it was just 2-0 after first. Jonesy made a couple huge saves. We had chances, but it's hard. They're playing at home and we're losing 2-0. We had a couple good chances. We tried, but we can't start like that. The first was really ugly. They come in hard. We turned so many pucks. It's tough, but still. We've got home ice advantage now, so it's 2-2. It's nothing happening yet, so we just have to win the next one."

"Obviously there's different ways to handle that situation and we did it perfect," forward Vladimir Tarasenko said. "The atmosphere inside the locker room was good too. It didn't separate us, it kept us more together. What else we can do? We were down by one now and we tie. We did what we planned to and next game will be really important for us."

The series now returns to San Jose for Game 5 on Sunday afternoon and there will be a Game 6 at Enterprise Center on Tuesday. Game 7, if needed, would be in San Jose on Thursday.

Jordan Binnington stopped 29 of 30 shots to get the win, while Martin Jones faced only 22 shots -- only four in the third period -- but made some of the best saves of the night. Without Jones' play, the Blues would likely be up 3-1 in the series.

San Jose pulled Jones for a sixth attacker with 2:02 to go and spent the rest of the game in the Blues' end. Though they had only two shots on goal, the pressure was constant. The Blues had two cracks at the empty net, both length-of-the-ice attempts by Joel Edmundson that narrowly missed.

"I'm just trying to stay strong and obviously close it out," said Binnington, who won his 10th postseason game, giving him the franchise record for wins in a single postseason. "After last game, especially. Again, the team did a great job in front of me, battling hard, competing, staying disciplined. Faceoffs were huge, and boys were blocking shots everywhere. it's just madness, and you hope for the best and try to close the door."

"I think they did a good job of getting the puck in our zone and just in terms of their offensive zone, they tend to find each other by rimming the puck," said defenseman Colton Parayko, "And they did a good job when their forwards are down low, they find their D men up high, rimming it. If we're able to cut that off, it's great. But they do a good job of it. They're good at protecting the puck, and just getting the puck toward the net. So their D men are good at getting pucks through and the forwards are good at getting rebounds. That's the flow of their game. You notice they shoot the puck a lot, if it gets blocked, their forwards go to the corners and grab it. It's good. It's a good challenge for us, and they did a good job."

It was a game that San Jose dominated for stretches and could have won. 

“Maybe the best I’ve felt about our game in the series so far even though we lost," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "We put two goals in our own net off our own guys. Didn’t get the start we wanted, got on our heels the first shift, took a couple penalties, other than that … and then not finding a way to get a couple more goals I thought we did a lot of good stuff.”

The second period was a matter of survival for the Blues, as the Sharks had the puck for long stretches of time. On one shift late in the period, the Blues line of Tyler Bozak, Robert Thomas and Pat Maroon were caught on the ice for about 90 seconds and couldn't get off as the Sharks continued to cycle the puck through the zone. Finally, after an icing call, Bozak won a faceoff and flipped the puck out of the zone, allowing the players to get a breather.

In the second period, the Blues were outshot 11-8. It looked at one point like the Sharks would get a power play after Brayden Schenn skated in to shove Marc-Edouard Vlasic after he took a swipe at Jordan Binnington's glove as he covered a puck. Schenn was sent to the penalty box, but after the referees conferred, Vlasic was also sent off to keep the game even at 4 on 4. The Sharks, however dominated that stretch, having the puck in the Blues zone almost the entire two minutes, but no one scored.

San Jose got a goal to tighten matters up on a power play with 13:13 to go in the third. The Blues had had a power after Pat Maroon was high sticked, but midway through the power play, Alex Pietrangelo was called for interference and after a brief 4 on 4, San Jose sent on the power play. Just 13 seconds into the man advantage, Brent Burns took a shot from the left point that Jordan Binnington slowed but didn't stop. Tomas Hertl reached in to poke in the loose puck. It was the first goal of the series for Hertl, who had nine in the first two rounds.

Barbashev got the first goal, on a shot from the left that hit the stick of San Jose's Gustav Nyquist and beat goalie Martin Jones to the short side. The play was set in motion by a forecheck by Alexander Steen on San Jose's Brent Burns that led to Burns passing the puck to Barbashev. It was the third goal for the fourth line in the past three games.

San Jose had long possessions in the Blues end but Jordan Binnington stopped all nine shots he faced, including a glove save on Melker Karlsson, who was all alone to Binnington's left and had time to set up and shoot.

The Blues' improved power play didn't show much the first time out, but the second time around, it needed just nine seconds to score. With Timo Meier in the box for hooking Ryan O'Reilly as the Blues tried to break out the puck, Vladimir Tarasenko shot from the left point that went into the blender in front of the net. Eventually, the puck went in off the skate of San Jose's Justin Braun and Tyler Bozak got credit for it. It was his fourth goal of the playoffs, though on replays it looked like Bozak never touched it.