Logan Couture scored with a minute left in the third period to send the San Jose Sharks into overtime and Erik Karlsson delivered his second goal of the game in the extra period for the win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of their West final Wednesday night in St. Louis.
At this point in the playoffs, it's pretty safe to say the Sharks know how to keep things interesting.
After coughing up a lead with a mid-game meltdown, Couture added to his impressive postseason campaign with his equalizer with 61 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, Karlsson buried a controversial goal after Timo Meier appeared to pass the puck with his hand to Gustav Nyquist.
Here are three takeaways from Game 3:
Second-stanza meltdown: In the first period of Game 3, the Sharks had the perfect response to their Game 2 loss. They got depth scoring from Joe Thornton and Erik Karlsson and remained unfazed by St. Louis' big hits.The second period was a whole other story though -- sloppy play in the neutral zone and a lack of forecheck resulted in three unanswered goals and a 4-3 lead for the Blues.
Why the Sharks came so undone isn't entirely clear. But that meltdown is something San Jose absolutely has to stop doing if they're going to win this series. The defensive breakdown made Martin Jones' job harder than it had to be and put all the momentum in St. Louis favor. (More on that coming up.) San Jose is going to have a hard time winning games if they keep letting up like that every night.
How'd the line shakeup go? The big talk for the Sharks heading into Game 3 was that head coach Peter DeBoer was shaking up his forward lines in an effort to get more participants into the game. For the first 25 or so minutes of the game, the changes worked -- adding Melker Karlsson to Joe Thornton's wing got the third line going and Thornton found the back of the net twice.
For the rest of the second period, as we already discussed, the wheels flew off pretty quickly and no line looked particularly good.
It was no big surprise DeBoer threw the lines into the blender for the third period.
But the Sharks don't just need their bottom six to start producing, they need all lines contributing at this point in the postseason. San Jose's top line, before Couture's late-game goal, didn't have an impact in Game 3 when the team needed them. The Tomas Hertl-led second line with Evander Kane and Joe Pavelski had a few looks in the game, but had trouble generating much against Ryan O'Reilly's line. San Jose isn't going to have much success going forward if they can't get multiple lines going every night.
Stick taps for Martin Jones: Admittedly, the three unanswered goals Jones gave up on the blocker side in the second frame weren't good. But Jones went into the third frame fully rejuvenated and made a couple big stops to keep San Jose in the game. Stopping David Perron from notching a hat trick in the third frame visibly helped inject some confidence into his teammates.
Nevertheless, the Sharks should have given Jones more help throughout Wednesday's game to keep the Blues from making that big push in the second 20 minutes. St. Louis has shown they're a team that doesn't go away and knows how to take full advantage of their opponents' mistakes.
In Game 4, San Jose's defensive effort will have to be better.