For the first time in their 25-year history, the San Jose Sharks have a series lead in the Western Conference Finals.
And they’re starting to make it look easy.
Tomas Hertl scored twice, and Martin Jones notched his second straight shutout in goal as the Sharks downed St. Louis is Game 3 on Thursday night, 3-0.
The Sharks lead the best-of-seven series 2-1, running their home winning streak in the playoffs to six games and outclassing the Blues for the second straight meeting. St. Louis saw its three-game road winning streak come to an end.
The series remains at SAP Center for Game 4 on Saturday afternoon (4:15 p.m., NBCSN).
Hertl’s fourth goal opened the scoring. After Brent Burns broke up Colton Parayko’s pass in the neutral zone, Joe Pavelski brought the puck over the line and slinked a pass through Parayko to an open Hertl, who blasted in a slap shot from the circle at 15:53 of the first period.
San Jose, which didn’t register a shot until almost nine minutes into the opening frame, took its 1-0 lead to the dressing room.
The Sharks were the better team from the outset of the second period, and upped their lead to 2-0 at 11:44. Trailing a Logan Couture-Patrick Marleau rush, an open Joonas Donskoi received a Couture pass and buzzed in a wrist shot from between the circles for his fourth goal of the postseason.
The Blues made a push in the first few minutes of the third, aided in part by some defensive zone sloppiness by the Sharks.
But rather than get back into the game, they saw Hertl add a dagger with his second goal of the night. Joe Thornton gunned a hard tape-to-tape pass to Hertl behind the net, and the Sharks winger got free of Jaden Schwartz before cutting to the front and finding daylight between Brian Elliott’s pads at 6:09.
Jake Allen came in to tend goal for the Blues after the score, relieving Elliott for the second time in the last five games.
Thornton and Pavelski each had two assists.
In the Sharks’ previous three appearances in the Western Conference Final, they lost the first two games of each and were never able to catch up.