ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues know one of the biggest things missing in their games so far this season has been the ugly goals, the rebounds and deflections that come from putting a lot of traffic in front of the net.
They finally were able to score some of those goals in a 4-1 win over Buffalo on Tuesday, and they hope they can do it again Thursday night when they host the San Jose Sharks.
It will be the first contest between the two teams since the Sharks eliminated the Blues in six games in the Western Conference final in May.
"That’s always the goal," left winger Jaden Schwartz said of scoring ugly goals. "I think we needed to be better with the puck everywhere, especially through the neutral zone and tighten up defensively a little bit and check for our chances a little more. I thought we did a good job, I thought we created a lot of turnovers on the forecheck that allowed us to get a lot of O-zone time."
Neither right winger Alexander Steen nor right winger Vladimir Tarasenko participated in the Blues’ practice Wednesday. Steen had to leave Tuesday night’s game after a hard check into the boards, and Tarasenko also was banged up in the contest.
Coach Ken Hitchcock called it a "maintenance" day for both players.
"Hopefully, we’ll have both of them in the lineup fresh and ready to go," Hitchcock said. "(Tarasenko) needed a maintenance day. Both guys needed it. We decided to switch it up and have a full practice today and it wouldn’t have done them any good, so we’ll get them ready for tomorrow. Both guys."
The Sharks suffered a 1-0 loss at Carolina on Tuesday night, with coach Peter DeBoer saying the team did not generate enough scoring chances.
"You have to put pucks in good places and then you have to win battles, and we didn’t do enough of either," DeBoer said.
DeBoer tried to shake up his forward lines in the third period and it is possible they could go with different combinations against the Blues.
"I don’t think anyone up front was generating much," center Logan Couture told the San Jose Mercury-News. "When that’s the case, Coach usually tries to get a spark somehow and he certainly has the right to do that."
The Blues have made a lot of changes since they last played the Sharks, with captain David Backes signing with Boston as a free agent, Troy Brouwer joining Calgary and Brian Elliott moving to the Flames in a trade, but the players who remain will be motivated for the game.
"They’re still one of the teams we have to worry about in this conference," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "They didn’t lose many guys from last year and have a very solid forward group. I’m sure there’s going to be a little bit of a bad taste in our mouth from last year."