Three Stars: Blues’ Elliott steps up in Game 1 of Western Conference final
The St. Louis Blues took Game 1 of the Western Conference final with a 2–1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night. Blues goaltender Brian Elliott stopped 31 of 32 shots he faced to help lead his team to victory. Game 2 is set for Tuesday night in St. Louis. Here are three players who made an impact during Sunday’s game.
Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues
Blues forward David Backes said ahead of the opener that St. Louis would need their goaltender to bail them out at some point in this series. It didn’t take long for that prediction to come true. The Blues didn’t win Game 1 so much as they escaped it with a series lead, and that’s entirely due to the play of their estimable goalie. Elliott stopped 31 of 32 shots he faced, turning in one of his most composed performances of the playoffs. His toe save on Joe Pavelski in the second preserved the lead, and is bound to become a highlight reel staple.
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
The captain had to settle for an assist on San Jose’s only goal (after it was originally credited to him), but Pavelski was easily the most dangerous skater on either side. He posted a game-high seven shots, at least four of which were high-quality chances, and bedeviled St. Louis’s defense with his speed and ability to find dead space. He couldn’t carry the Sharks over the hump on Sunday, but the way he was going in during Sunday’s game he’ll have his day before this series is over.
Jori Lehtera, St. Louis Blues
He was one of the few Blues who enjoyed a positive possession game and made his mark by scoring the game-winner, beating Martin Jones with a slapper off the rush. He’s the seventh St. Louis player to register a clincher through their first nine wins this spring.