Preview: Blues host Sharks looking to avoid season sweep
The San Jose Sharks’ longest road losing streak of the season coincides with a lack of production from the power play.
That unit hasn’t had many problems against the St. Louis Blues.
The Sharks will try to end their four-game skid as the visitors by sweeping the season series from the Blues on Tuesday night.
San Jose (20-7-6) has dropped five of six on the road, with the power play coming up empty on 13 chances in those defeats.
Special teams proved to be vital again Saturday as the Sharks failed to convert on two power plays while losing 3-2 at Nashville, which went 1 for 2 with the man advantage. That came two days after San Jose did all of its scoring on the power play to beat Minnesota 3-1 at home.
“Every game we play it seems the team that wins the special teams play, wins the game,” captain Joe Thornton said. “They got the one power-play goal and we didn’t, and that’s basically what the NHL comes down to right now, who is better on special teams.”
That’s certainly been true against the Blues (22-6-4).
The Sharks are 5 for 14 on the power play while holding St. Louis to 1 for 11 in winning both meetings. The power play came up big at Scottrade Center on Oct. 15, scoring three times to power a 6-2 victory.
That meeting was also marred by 89 combined penalty minutes after the Blues’ Maxim Lapierre checked Dan Boyle from behind and into the boards early in the first period. Boyle left on a stretcher and missed seven games with an upper-body injury, while Lapierre was suspended for five contests.
Boyle had an assist in the following matchup, as San Jose won 6-3 at home Nov. 29. The defenseman enters this meeting with one goal and four assists in his last three games after registering one of each against the Predators.
Patrick Marleau has also put together a strong stretch, scoring three goals and assisting on three more over the past five games. The left wing has been key to San Jose’s success against the Blues this season, compiling one goal and three assists while notching three points on the power play at St. Louis in October.
Thornton has seven points against the Blues this season, and three have come on the power play.
St. Louis is looking to get untracked after falling 3-2 in overtime at Ottawa on Monday, ending its three-game winning streak.
“We got a point but we’ve got to answer right back against San Jose,” said Brian Elliott, who had 29 saves.
Elliott may return to the bench in favor of Jaroslav Halak, who is 9-2-2 with a 2.27 goals-against average and two shutouts at home. However, one of those defeats came against the Sharks.
Halak stopped 18 of 19 shots at San Jose last month after Elliott was lifted for allowing four goals on eight shots in the opening period.
Chris Stewart did all of the Blues’ scoring against the Senators, giving him four goals in the last three games to match his total from the previous 18. The right wing, though, hasn’t managed a point against the Sharks this season, while Alexander Steen has one and is a minus-5.
Steen leads the Western Conference with 22 goals and tops St. Louis with 35 points, but he’s been held off the score sheet in the last two games.