St. Louis Blues 3, San Jose Sharks 0

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- David Backes was a freshman at Minnesota State University the last time the St. Louis Blues won a playoff game.

Brian Elliott was in his initial season at the University of Wisconsin.

On Saturday night, the two combined to help erase a long string of futility and lead the Blues to a 3-0 win over San Jose in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series before a standing-room-only crowd of 19,500 at the Scottrade Center.

Backes, Vladimir Sobotka and David Backes scored goals and Elliott stopped 17 shots in relief of injured goalie Jaroslav Halak to even the best-of-seven series at one game each.

Game 3 is set for Monday in San Jose.

The Blues looked to defy the odds in their Western Conference quarterfinal series with San Jose. The Sharks stunned St. Louis 3-2 in double overtime in Game 1, sending the second-seeded hosts into a 1-0 hole. The Blues have lost the first game of a series 27 times in their 45-year history. They have come back to win the series only three times.

"No pressure," says St. Louis captain David Backes. "We've just got to play better."

St. Louis had lost seven successive playoff games. Its last win was a 4-1 triumph over San Jose on April 12, 2004 in Game 3 of a Western Conference quarterfinal series.

That frustrating streak came to an end in a big way Saturday.

Backes tallied off picture-perfect cross-ice pass from linemate T.J. Oshie early in the second period to put the second-seeded hosts up 2-0.

Elliott did the rest holding off the seventh-seeded Sharks down the stretch. He entered the game 67 seconds into the second period after starter Jaroslav Halak suffered an injury. Elliott stopped all 17 shots he faced including a sliding save on Martin Havlat midway through the third period.

Halak, who made 12 saves, collided with teammate Barret Jackman and was unable to continue.

Perron put the game away by scoring with 25 seconds left.

Backes turned in a solid bounce-back effort on Saturday. The Blues' leading scorer during the regular season with 24 goals, he was held without a shot for only the sixth time this season in the first game, which lasted 83:34.

Backes, who led the team with 24 regular-season goals, converted off a nifty pass from linemate T.J. Oshie. Sobotka scored the first post-season goal of his career with a little help from San Jose netminder Antti Niemi, who pushed the puck in during a scramble in front of the net.

Niemi was razor-sharp in the opener, stopping 40 shots including 14 in the first extra session.

The Blues came out aggressively from the opening whistle in contrast to their slow start in Game 1, won by the Sharks 3-2 in double overtime.

San Jose has won eight of its last 11 games including a pair of regular-season wins over the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings, who lead top-seeded Vancouver 2-0 in another best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Niemi made 40 saves in the Game 1 win including 14 in the first extra session.

NOTES: San Jose entered the game 2-for-18 on the power play against St. Louis this season including a 1-for-3 effort in Game 1. ... St, Louis swept the regular season series between the teams 4-0. ... The Blues have not won a playoff game since April 12, 2004 and have not won a post-season series since 2002. ... St. Louis, which sports a 30-7-5 home record, has lost its last three home games. ... The higher-seeded home team lost the first game in four of the eight first-round series. ... Teams that take a 2-0 lead win the series 13 percent of the time.
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