Preview: Blues look to cap a perfect homestand against the Sharks
Oshie, Steen and the Blues are looking to cap a perfect 5-0 season-opening homestand
By ASSOCIATED PRESSFS Midwest
Thanks to their high-powered offenses, the St. Louis Blues and
San Jose Sharks are two of the three undefeated teams in the NHL. Judging by recent history, St. Louis appears to have a good chance to hand San Jose its first defeat.
The host Blues seek their seventh win in eight meetings with the Sharks on Tuesday night.
San Jose (5-0-0) and St. Louis (4-0-0) are first and second in the league with 4.80 and 4.75 goals per game, respectively.
David Backes' resurgent start has helped fuel the Blues, who are looking to cap a perfect season-opening homestand after a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday. That gave them the best start in team history, and they have not trailed this season.
"It's clicking right now, but it's only four games," Backes said. "Four good games, but it's only getting tougher from here now."
Backes scored twice against New York, pushing his season total to four goals. He finished with six in 48 games last year after totaling 55 in the previous two seasons.
The club's top line of Backes, Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie has caused havoc for opponents. Steen's eight points trail only Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, while Oshie has a goal and three assists.
"It's three guys that are willing to do whatever is needed every single night," Backes said.
Backes and Steen have also combined for three of St. Louis' six power play goals on 16 chances, a league-leading 37.5 percent success rate.
The Blues have gone 6 for 23 on the power play in the last five victories over the Sharks. San Jose has allowed three power-play goals in 14 opportunities this year.
The Sharks (5-0-0), two wins away from matching the best start in team history established last season, have a club-record 24 goals through five contests.
Tomas Hertl scored his league-leading seventh goal in a 3-2 home victory over Ottawa on Saturday before leaving with an injury, though he's expected to play Tuesday.
"He's a little bit sore but I think he'll be fine tomorrow," coach Todd McLellan said.
The victory over the Senators was San Jose's first closely contested game, as the Sharks outscored their first four opponents by 16.
"We knew it was going to be the same way every night," forward Patrick Marleau said after scoring for the fourth time this season. "It was going to be ups and downs, and tonight was a good challenge. We looked at it as a challenge."
Brent Burns also scored against the Senators and has joined Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski as Sharks with six points apiece.
Goaltenders for both teams have been solid, with Antti Niemi recording a 1.40 goals-against average for San Jose and Jaroslav Halak posting a 1.75 mark. Neither has faced more than 30 shots in a game.
The Sharks lead the league with 42.4 shots per contest while the Blues are seventh with 32.5.
Halak has gone 4-2-0 with a 2.29 goals-against average and two shutouts in seven starts against San Jose. Niemi has surrendered six goals on 48 shots in his last two matchups with St. Louis - both losses.