Erik Karlsson wasn't going to ask that his goal be overturned. You can't blame him for that. Understandably, nobody on the San Jose Sharks was about to give back the club's controversial game-winning goal Wednesday in a 5-4 overtime road win over the St. Louis Blues.
The result gives the Sharks a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals. "We weren't playing handball were we?" Karlsson said of the decisive play. "We were playing hockey, and we deserved to win this game. At the end of the day, I think neither team drew the shorter stick on the calls out there, so it's a fair game."
Karlsson's second goal of the night counted despite an obvious hand-pass seconds earlier, and rest assured before the puck drops for Game 4 of the best-of-seven series Friday in St. Louis, there will be all kinds of chatter about the tally 5:23 into overtime. From his knees, San Jose's Timo Meier swatted a bounding puck to teammate Gustav Nyquist in the slot. Nyquist sent a pass to Karlsson, who buried the shot. Despite the protests from the Blues, the play couldn't be reviewed.
Blues coach Craig Berube did an amazing job of internalizing his frustration, at least to the media. When asked whether he believed it was a missed call, Berube responded: "What do you guys think?" Knowing what everybody saw, Berube added: "So don't ask me. There's no reason to ask me. I have nothing to say about it."
Still, talk about a tough way to drop a game. The Blues erased a two-goal deficit with a four-goal second period and were 61 seconds away from victory when Logan Couture forced overtime with a rebound goal. "It's difficult to lose in overtime in playoffs any time," Berube said. "You've got to move on. The team's got to move on. We've all got to move on from it and get ready for Game 4. Really, that's all you can do. We played a solid hockey game, but we were on the losing side of it. There's nothing we can do."
The winning goal capped a wild affair. Goals by Karlsson -- his first since Dec. 29 -- and Joe Thornton staked the Sharks to a 2-0 lead after one period. Then, just 18 seconds after Alexander Steen put the hosts on the board, Thornton netted his second marker in a three-point game. However, the Blues roared back. Vladimir Tarasenko made it a 3-2 game at the 4:05 mark of the second period. David Perron then scored twice before the frame ended to put the hosts in a great position to take a lead in the series -- his second goal snapping his team's 0-for-18 drought with the man advantage.
The possible joy washed away in stunning fashion. "I really didn't get an explanation other than I guess there's a different set of rules for two different teams," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "I'm sure they'll lose some sleep tonight after looking at it, but that's all I'm going to say about it."
Martin Jones made 28 saves for the win, including a couple of brilliant stops in the third period before his team found the equalizer. Jordan Binnington stopped 27 shots for the Blues, who also lost defenseman Vince Dunn in the first period when he was hit in the face by a puck.
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