Sharks 4, Blues 2

Patrick Marleau scored in the opening minute, keeping pace with

Alex Ovechkin for the NHL scoring lead. The rest of the game was

every bit as successful for the San Jose Sharks.

Marleau notched his 38th goal, and rookie backup Thomas Griess

made 35 saves, helping the Western Conference leaders begin a

six-game trip heading into the Olympic break with a 4-2 victory

over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night. Marleau has already

matched his career high for goals set last season.

“It’s nice to be up there right now knowing you’re among the

top guys,” Marleau said. “It’s one of those things you’ve got to

take in stride and not kind of think about it too much, and keep

playing.”

Ryane Clowe, Devin Setoguchi and Scott Nichol also scored for

the Sharks, who rebounded from their lone regulation loss in the

last 11 games after squandering a two-goal lead against Detroit two

days earlier. San Jose has 83 points, one behind Washington for

first overall in the NHL.

“You want to get those wins early because as a road trip goes

on, you can get a little bit weary,” Marleau said. “I think

everybody is excited. We have a good chance to buckle down and kind

of just let it all out.”

Patrik Berglund had a goal and an assist, and Alex Steen also

scored for the Blues, an NHL-worst 9-15-5 at home while getting

outscored 90-71. Backup goalie Ty Conklin, who made 27 saves, fell

to 0-6 at the Scottrade Center.

Conklin is 1-6 at home overall, including a victory over the Red

Wings in a season-opening series in Sweden, and 7-2-1 with a 1.70

goals-against average on the road. He got the start a day after

Chris Mason helped the Blues win 3-2 in Chicago.

“I don’t think I need to explain it or describe it, it’s pretty

self-explanatory really,” Conklin said. “I think it just comes

down to making the extra save.

“I’ve made an extra save on the road, I haven’t at home.”

Greiss’ strong play made it a relaxing night off for Evgeni

Nabokov, who had made seven straight starts. Griess faced 15 shots

in the third period.

“Thomas is kind of like a photo copy machine,” coach Todd

McLellan said. “They threw a lot of pucks at the net, and for him

having not played in a while there’s a lot of bodies coming at him,

too.

“I think he did a real admirable job.”

St. Louis had shown signs of improvement at home recently,

getting points in its previous five games, but played catchup most

of the night against San Jose. The Sharks are 18-6-2 on the road,

third-best in the NHL.

Marleau’s goal total beats the point total of Blues top scorers

Brad Boyes and Paul Kariya, tied at 35 points apiece. Marleau gave

the Sharks the lead after only 21 seconds off a feed from Joe

Thornton, who collected the rebound of a backhand shot by Dany

Heatley.

Clowe capitalized on a big rebound for his 14th goal at 7:53 of

the first, putting the Sharks up by two. Berglund answered with a

power-play goal midway through the period, but Setoguchi slipped

the puck under a diving Conklin on a power play late in the second

to make it 3-1.

Steen cut the gap to one goal with a shot that deflected off the

skate of Sharks defenseman Jay Leach at 8:39 of the third. Nichol’s

third goal with 4:48 to go gave the Sharks their third two-goal

cushion.

NOTES: The Blues announced their 22nd sellout of the season,

although there were hundreds of empty seats at the Scottrade Center

possibly due to a forecast of snow. … The Sharks finished 3-1

against the Blues. … Sharks D Dan Boyle (lower-body injury)

missed his sixth straight game.