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Blues break 10-year playoff drought, beat Sharks to advance to next round

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- It took just 45 seconds for the St. Louis Blues to erase a decade of frustration.

David Perron and Jamie Langenbrunner scored on back-to-back shots midway through the third period to erase a one-goal deficit and lift the St. Louis Blues to a 3-1 series-clinching win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series Saturday before 19, 940 at the Scottrade Center.

St. Louis wins the best-of-seven series 4-1 to capture its first series triumph since stopping Chicago 4-1 in a quarterfinal contest April 25, 2002.

"A real exciting feeling," Perron said. "Unbelievable."

Perron deflected in a shot from the point by Alex Pietrangelo with 7:59 left in the third period to break a 1-1 tie. The Blues, who struggled to solve San Jose netminder Antti Niemi throughout most of the contest, had tied the game on the goal by Langenbrunner at 11:16. Langenbrunner scored his 34th career playoff goal from close range off a rebound of a shot by Scott Nicol.

Andy McDonald added an open net goal with 38.2 left in the third period, his fourth tally of the playoffs.

Perron's first-ever post-season goal was the most important tally of the series. It sent the crowd into a frenzy and put the aggressive Sharks on their heels.

The 23-year-old Perron calmly tipped in a long shot from Pietrangelo that was headed well to the left of the net.

"I think he shot that one wide on purpose for me to get a stick on it," Perron said. "I think his shot was six or seven feet wide."

Second-seeded St. Louis lost four successive playoff series before finally breaking the string against seventh-seeded San Jose. The Blues were swept by Vancouver in 2009 and lost in four games to San Jose in 2004. They fell to Vancouver in 2003 and dropped a five-game set to Detroit after beating Chicago in 2002.

Those setbacks are now a distant memory.

St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock, who replaced Davis Payne on Nov. 8, 2011, said he is especially happy for the Blues' loyal victory-starved fans.

"When we scored that second goal, the roof just came off," he said. "An hour after the game, people didn't want to leave. Now they can enjoy hockey and not worry about why we haven't won in the first round."

St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott picked up his third win in as many starts in the series. He made 26 saves. Elliott, who replaced the injured Jaroslav Halak in Game, 2 stopped 93 of 98 shots in four appearances. The former Ottawa goalie was particularly tough down the stretch on Saturday making a pair of key saves with the Sharks on the power play and just over three minutes left.

"This is one of the best feelings I've ever had," Elliott said. "It just makes you want to go out there and do it again."

Elliott was impressed with how quickly the Blues turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.

"It's amazing how fast the game can change in a couple seconds," Elliott said. "I couldn't hear myself think and my ears were still ringing after the game. It was pretty incredible."

San Jose took a 1-0 lead on a goal by captain Joe Thornton with 39 seconds left in the second period. It was his second post-season tally this season and 20th of his career.

The Sharks controlled play throughout the first two periods before wilting under the Blues' pressure down the stretch.

"It's always disappointing when you lose," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "But we went down as a team, not as individuals."

Thornton led the Sharks with two goals and three assists in the series.

"We just came up on the short end of the stick," he said. "It stinks. We have a good group of guys and we wanted to keep playing.

NOTES: St. Louis blocked 105 shots in the series including 21 on Saturday. McDonald, with two goals and four assists on the power play, had a hand in all six of the Blues' man-advantage goals this series. ... San Jose winger Patrick Marleau has 88 post-season points in his career but went without a point in the series. ... The Sharks were 2-for-17 on the power play in the series. St. Louis was 6-for-18. Pietrangelo had a game-high six shots on goal.
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