Just when we thought we had seen it all this postseason, the hockey world is left stunned again.
During overtime of Game 3, the Sharks once again found themselves the beneficiaries of a bizarre call, or this time, non-call. As Timo Meier was falling to the ice, he batted the puck out of the air with his hand, passing it to Gustav Nyquist, who fed it to Erik Karlsson for a one-timer. Karlsson got it past Jordan Binnington, who was immediately irate that a whistle wasn’t blown earlier. Replay showed that Meier passed the puck with his hand, but a hand pass must be called on the ice as it happens, otherwise it is not reviewable.
“I have nothing to say about it,” Blues coach Craig Berube said after the game.
The Enterprise Center crowd was left bewildered that none of the four officials saw the hand pass to blow the play dead and the Sharks walked away with a 5–4 victory and 2–1 series lead. But San Jose wasn’t the only one to benefit from a non-reviewable play.
Midway through the second period with the game tied 3–3, David Perron escaped a delay-of-game penalty when a replay appeared to show him lifting the puck over the glass behind Binnington. But the officials didn’t make the call on the ice, and this is another play that can’t be reviewed. Instead of going to the box, Perron went on to score a pair of quick goals, evening things up on a wrist shot with 3:57 left in the period and a power-play goal a couple minutes later to take the lead.
The Blues started the night sticking to their game, playing physical and executing with smart defensive pressure that they’ve been showing off all postseason. But they got away from that midway through the first when Karlsson sniped from the point through traffic to make it 1–0 and score his first goal of 2019. The goal seemed to deflate both the Blues’ bench and crowd, and the Sharks took advantage. Joe Thornton backhanded a rebound with 3:02 left in the first to give the Sharks a 2–0 lead and all of the momentum as San Jose held St. Louis to just four shots in the opening 20 minutes.
St. Louis went into the second knowing it needed to get pucks deep and return to its aggressive forecheck, and it didn’t take long for that to happen. Ivan Barbashev outmuscled Karlsson while entering the zone and Alexander Steen finished it to make it a one-goal game. That would hold for just 18 seconds, as the Sharks quickly responded with Thornton scoring again, kicking the puck to his stick and sweeping it past Binnington. But unlike the first period, the Blues kept at it. Vladimir Tarasenko sped into the offensive zone on a breakout a few minutes later and roofed one glove-side on Jones to make it a one-goal game again. The quick pace continued throughout the period, and the Blues went into the second intermission with a 4–3 lead thanks to Perron.
Both sides kept up with the pressure in the third, but it seemed to be the Blues who were doing everything they could to close this one out until San Jose pulled Jones with two minutes on the clock. Shortly after Jaden Schwartz missed an empty net, Logan Couture tied things up with less than a minute left. Couture entered the third period -2 and without a shot on goal, but the playoffs’ leading goal scorer stepped up for his team in a crucial moment as he has throughout the postseason.
The Blues played most of the game with five defensemen after Vince Dunn took a puck to the mouth in the first period and did not return. Despite being down a man, St. Louis put together a pretty complete game and kept finding ways to swing the momentum back in its favor. But it was the Sharks—who entered Game 3 just 2–4 on the road—who walked away with the series lead thanks to a trio of stars shining in key moments and a little bit of luck that's found them all playoffs.