SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Call it a fluke. Call it a stroke of luck. Most of all, call it what it was -- a surprising, dramatic game-winning shot.
Gary Suter's slap shot from just inside the blue line skipped into the net with 8:37 remaining and the San Jose Sharks beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 Wednesday night to take a 3-1 lead in their playoff series.
''I think we have to be taken seriously now,'' San Jose's Tony Granato said. ''We got a good bounce, but what the heck? It's still a goal. In hockey, there are not many pretty goals but they all count. It's getting harder every game to get the win and we'll take any goal, whether it bounces in or not."
The best-of-seven series moves back to St. Louis on Friday for Game 5 with the top-seeded Blues, who finished the regular season with the NHL's best record, on the brink of elimination. But they've fought back from a 3-1 deficit as recently as last season, when they came back to beat Phoenix 4-3 in a first-round series.
''Everybody expects when you finish first that it would be easy, but we knew otherwise,'' St. Louis' Pierre Turgeon said. ''We felt all along that they're a better team than they showed in the regular season.
''I felt once we weathered the storm and scored our power-play goal, that would turn things around. We're getting the puck to the net but we're not getting the bounce. We need to take a page out of last year's book and hope to get some bounces. We're certainly frustrated. It's not easy to come back from 3-1 all the time but we did it last year and we hope to do it again.''
San Jose, 0-4-1 in five regular season meetings against the Blues, is one win from duplicating its 1994 feat, when it ousted Detroit in a first-round series as a No. 8 seed.
The winning shot was set up when Alexander Korolyuk threw the puck across the ice and it bounded off the boards to Suter, who wound up for a slap shot near the blue line. The puck took a bounce off the ice and shot between goalie Roman Turek's stick-side arm and his leg.
''It looked like a knuckleball. Boom, boom, it was in,'' St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville said.
Capitals 3, Penguins 2
WASHINGTON -- Ron Tugnutt's erratic play finally caught up with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Washington Capitals are still alive.
Rookie Jeff Halpern scored the game-winning goal on a rebound with 7:05 remaining -- on a power play resulting from Tugnutt's careless slashing penalty -- as the Capitals prevented a series sweep with a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.
Washington overcame two disallowed goals and numerous other missed rebound chances resulting from Tugnutt's near inability to make clean saves.
Tugnutt had survived the Capitals' assaults despite similar play in the first three games, but this time Chris Simon, Steve Konowalchuk and Halpern all scored.
Senators 2, Maple Leafs 1
KANATA, Ontario -- Andreas Dackell scored twice as Ottawa beat Toronto to even its NHL playoff series.
The first-round Eastern Conference best-of-seven series is tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 in Toronto on Saturday night.
Red Wings 3, Kings 0
LOS ANGELES -- Pat Verbeek and Larry Murphy scored power-play goals 1:57 apart late in the first period, and Chris Osgood earned his eighth career playoff shutout as Detroit beat Los Angeles to sweep the series.
Sergei Fedorov scored an empty-netter on a breakaway with 51 seconds remaining. Some of the numerous red-and-white-clad Red Wings fans tossed octopuses entwined with strips of red cloth onto the ice after the goal.
Coyotes 3, Avalanche 2
PHOENIX -- Mikael Renberg got the winner 38 seconds into the second period, and Sean Burke, who allowed 12 goals in the first three games, made 36 saves as Phoenix beat Colorado to remain alive in the series.
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