St. Louis' Jamie Langenbrunner scores against San Jose goalie Antti… (Josie Lepe / San Jose Mercury…)
Jamie Langenbrunner and David Perron scored in a 45-second span in the third period, and the St. Louis Blues woke up in time to put away the San Jose Sharks, 3-1, and wrap up the first-round Western Conference series in five games Saturday night.
Joe Thornton scored in the final minute of the second period for San Jose, and the visiting Sharks were seemingly in control before the flurry that ended their season.
Brian Elliott made 26 saves, and Andy McDonald ended all doubt with an empty-net goal in the final minute. St. Louis, the No. 2-seeded team in the West, won a playoff series for the first time in 10 years against a franchise that reached the conference finals the previous two years. Before this series, St. Louis hadn't won a playoff game in eight years.
The Blues seemed a step slow most of the way in front of a sellout crowd waving white rally towels before tying it with their checking line, and getting the go-ahead goal from their top line. They were the first team to come from behind after two periods to win in the series.
The lightning strike rally began when Antti Niemi couldn't handle Scott Nichol's bouncing shot from just across the blue line and Langenbrunner tapped it home at 11:16, the first point of the series for both Nichol and Langenbrunner.
Perron deflected Alex Pietrangelo's floater from the point on the next shot, and Elliott made the lead stand with a handful of nice saves the rest of the way. The Blues had to kill off a delay-of-game penalty on McDonald in the closing minutes.
The Blues were the NHL's best home team with a franchise-record 30 wins and just six regulation losses, and won two at home and two on the road against the Sharks. Counting the regular season, they were 8-1 against San Jose.
Thornton's second goal of the series gave the Sharks their second lead of the series with 39 seconds to go in the second. The San Jose captain converted a pass from Daniel Winnik and beat Elliott between the legs from the left side of the net for his fifth point of the series, giving him a hand in his team's last five goals.
Washington 4, at Boston 3: Troy Brouwer scored on a power play with 1:27 left and the Capitals pushed the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins to the edge of elimination.
Brouwer gave Washington a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference series with his second goal of the playoffs, beating Tim Thomas over the glove with a wrist shot from the right circle. It came with 37 seconds left on a slashing penalty against Benoit Pouliot.
Boston, which trailed 2-0 and 3-2, tied it at 8:47 of the third period on Johnny Boychuk's goal.
The Capitals took a 2-0 lead in the second period on goals by Alexander Semin at 11:16 and Jay Beagle at 14:27. That seemed to be a sizable advantage in a series that featured tight defense with each team scoring only seven goals in the first four games.
But the Bruins rallied with two goals in 28 seconds late in the period to tie it at 2-2.
Ottawa 2, at New York Rangers 0: Craig Anderson stopped 41 shots to make Jason Spezza's first-period goal stand up and the Senators pushed the top-seeded Rangers to the brink of elimination in the Eastern Conference series. Ottawa has won two straight for a 3-2 series lead and will have a chance to close it out Monday night at home.
Spezza added an empty-net goal with 55.3 seconds remaining, and Anderson was perfect in earning his second career playoff shutout. He stood tall in the third period when the Rangers pressed for the tying goal. Since New York took a 2-0 lead in the first period of its 3-2 overtime loss in Game 4, Anderson has gone 116 minutes, 32 seconds without allowing a goal.
Henrik Lundqvist was nearly as good in making 28 saves for New York. The Rangers have come back to win only one series in which they trailed 3-2.
Ottawa would be an unlikely participant in the second round, especially if the Senators get there without captain Daniel Alfredsson, who has been sidelined since Game 2 because of a concussion following a hit by Rangers rookie Carl Hagelin. Hagelin, suspended three games by the NHL for the hit, is eligible to return Monday.
The Rangers fired 15 shots at Anderson in the third period, but couldn't get a puck past him — even during their fourth power play of the game.
at Florida 3, New Jersey 0: Kris Versteeg scored a goal and set up another, Jose Theodore made 30 saves for his second postseason shutout, and the Panthers moved within a victory over their first series win in 16 years. Scottie Upshall also scored for Florida, which leads the Eastern Conference 3-2.
Tomas Kopecky was credited with an empty-net goal with 34 seconds left, after Ilya Kovalchuk impeded his clear path to the net. Martin Brodeur made 30 saves for the Devils.