St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock sensed before the puck dropped for Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks Saturday night that the sellout crowd was nervous.
"In the introduction in the first period, but they said, 'Could you get to the end of
the game?'" Hitchcock said. "That was the feeling we had on the bench."
That was the feeling through 50 minutes of the game as well, after San Jose carried a
one-goal lead late into regulation. But in a 45-second span, the Blues scored back-to-back
goals by David Perron and Jamie Langenbrunner for their first lead, and Andy McDonald
added an empty-net goal for a 3-1 victory.
The win clinched the Western Conference first-round series against San Jose, and it
also clinched the franchise's first playoff win since 2002. The club will open the second
round of the playoffs next week against an opponent yet to be determined.
The Blues tied the score 1-1 with 8:44 left in regulation on Langenbrunner's 34th of
his playoff career, capping off a terrific series for the team's fourth line. It came on a
rebound, after a shot by fellow veteran Scott Nichol.
"Maybe you don't have the best legs, but that's what a crowd's for and that's what home
ice is for," Nichol said.
"It's the highest I've jumped off the bench in a long time," defenseman Barret Jackman
If the Blues' first goal was an ugly goal against San Jose goalie Antti Niemi, the
second was a thing of beauty. Perron amazingly deflected a shot by Alex Pietrangelo past
"I thought the explosion when we scored the second goal ... the joy and explosion that
happened in this building was unbelievable," Hitchcock said. "It was 50 percent joy in my
opinion and 50 percent relief.
"I think the fans carried the tension of something bad is going to happen, and I know
what that is like. But man, when we scored that second goal, that roof came right off.
Then you saw joy. People an hour later still didn't want to leave the building. That just
shows you, to me, where that fan base is at now. I think they can now enjoy hockey rather
than live in the disappointment of not getting through (the) first round or even not
getting in the playoffs."
The Blues are a young team, but Jackman, the longest-tenured player on the roster at 10
years, has been around long enough to know what the win meant.
"It gave me chills at the end of the game, with the crowd and knowing that we're going
on," said Jackman. "It's a stepping stone of a long journey ahead."