Blues-Sharks Preview

During the last two seasons, only two teams scored more goals at

home than the San Jose Sharks. Lately, the Sharks haven’t come

close to that type of production at HP Pavilion.

The Sharks look to snap a six-game losing streak and avoid their

first seven-game skid at home since 1995 on Saturday night when

they face the St. Louis Blues.

From 2008-10, San Jose found the back of the net 276 times at

home during the regular season, tied with Detroit and trailing

Washington (298) and Vancouver (277) during this stretch. The

three-time defending Pacific Division champion averaged 3.1 goals

while opening 10-4-3 at HP Pavilion this season, but it has scored

just eight times while dropping six straight at home.

San Jose’s last seven-game slide on home ice was an eight-game

skid from Feb. 18-March 26, 1995.

“The disappointing thing for me is when someone shows up to work

and they are not prepared to work,” coach Todd McLellan, whose team

is tied with Los Angeles for last place in the division, said

following Thursday’s 5-2 loss to Western Conference-worst Edmonton.

“… I can’t imagine what would happen in the real world, a brain

surgeon, an ambulance driver, a police officer, someone over in

Afghanistan, if they weren’t prepared to exercise what they were

asked to do in critical situations.”

Before playing 13 of 17 on the road, the Sharks (21-19-5) will

look to salvage the finale of their three-game homestand with St.

Louis (21-16-6) making the first of two visits this season.

While the Blues are 2-4-3 in their last nine trips to San Jose,

coach Davis Payne’s club is looking to build off one of its better

defensive performances in a couple weeks.

After yielding 22 goals during a season high-tying five-game

slide, St. Louis improved to 1-1-0 on its three-game swing through

California on Thursday following a 3-1 victory over the Kings.

“When you’re looking for wins and trying to get things started,

you have to do it any way you can,” defenseman Barret Jackman said.

“If we can play this type of game again, we’ll have a better

outlook at the end of games. Play a consistent game and plug away

at the process, and we’ll be OK.”

Jaroslav Halak will likely be in net for his second straight

start after turning away 24 shots versus Los Angeles.

Halak is 1-1-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average against San

Jose this season, making 30 saves in the teams’ most recent matchup

– a 4-1 St. Louis defeat on Dec. 18.

Antero Niittymaki, who stopped 21 of 22 shots in that matchup,

is 0-3-0 with a 4.08 GAA in his last three starts and could be in

net for the Sharks.

McClellan could also go with Antti Niemi, who has a 2.55 GAA

while dropping his last four starts.

Niemi made 27 saves in a 2-0 loss to the Blues on Nov. 4.

Sharks captain Joe Thornton, who earned a two-game suspension

for an elbow to the head of Blues forward David Perron in that

defeat, has a goal and 14 assists in his last nine home games in

this matchup.

San Jose’s offense could also benefit from the return of leading

goal scorer Logan Couture, who missed Thursday’s loss with a knee

injury. The NHL’s rookie of the month in December scored twice in

last month’s victory in St. Louis.

The last time San Jose dropped seven in a row was an 0-7-3 skid

from Nov. 5-30, 2005.