SHARKS (30-16-6) at BLUES (33-14-7)
TV: CSN-California, FS-Midwest
Last 10: San Jose 5-4-1, St. Louis 7-2-1.
Season Series: This is the third of four matchups between these Western Conference teams. The Blues have won both games so far this season, including a 1-0 victory on Dec. 10 in which Brian Elliott made 24 saves for the shutout. Last season, San Jose won three of its four matchups against the Blues.
Big Story: Both these teams have been firmly placed atop the Western Conference standings and, despite some marginal slip-ups of late, look ready to make a run in the playoffs. The Sharks have lost two of their last three, but are still firmly placed atop the Pacific Division. They start a mammoth nine-game road trip in St. Louis on Sunday, a season-long trip that could potentially make or break their season.
The Blues recently struggled through a run in which they lost three of four, but rebounded nicely by closing out a three-game road swing with back-to-back wins in Ottawa and New Jersey. Saturday night against Colorado, St. Louis started a run in which it plays five of its next seven games at home before embarking on a six-game road trip.
Sharks: After going 7-1-1 to start the month of January, February didn't start quite as smoothly for San Jose. The Sharks started the month with a convincing 5-2 win over Dallas before proceeding to lose consecutive games against Phoenix and Calgary. But in a season in which they haven't lost more than three straight games, the Sharks rebounded with a solid victory against the Blackhawks on Friday.
Hosting Chicago, the Sharks blew an early 2-0 lead as well as a 3-2 third-period lead against a desperate Blackhawks team that came into the game losers of six straight. With the score tied 3-3 in the third, Benn Ferriero
scored what would eventually become his fourth game-winning goal of the season. Jamie McGinn
's power-play marker with six minutes remaining iced the 5-3 win for the Sharks in which Brent Burns
collected three assists.
Blues: After closing out January with their first two-game losing skid in a month, St. Louis continued its winning ways by taking three of their next four games. The Blues looked to continue that streak when they hosted Colorado on Saturday night.
Against the Avalanche, St. Louis got two goals in four minutes from David Perron to take a brief 2-1 lead. But Erik Johnson's second goal of the season tied things up early and, despite outshooting Colorado 31-10 in the second and third periods, the game would go to overtime. It was in the extra period that Carlo Colaiacovo scored his first goal in almost four months to give the Blues their third straight victory.
Who's Hot: Burns has sparkled for the Sharks lately, posting eight points in his current four-game point streak while Joe Thornton
has nine points in his current five-game run. Joe Pavelski
also has six points in his last five games. … For the Blues, Perron has been on fire with five goals in his last three games.
Injury Report: Martin Havlat
(hamstring surgery), Tommy Wingels
(upper body), and Jason Demers
(charley horse) are on IR for San Jose. … The Blues have Andy McDonald (concussion), Kent Huskins (ankle), Alex Steen (concussion-like symptoms), and Jason Arnott (shoulder) on IR while Kris Russell and Matt D'Agostini might be out as well against the Sharks.
Stat Pack: The goaltending combination of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak has already combined for 10 shutouts this season. That's as many as the Blues had all last season and the second-highest total in the League behind the Rangers and Bruins, who both had 11. If they can earn three more shutouts, the Blues will have the highest season total since the 2003-04 Devils had 14 shutouts, 11 of which belonged to Martin Brodeur. The Blues are also within striking distance of the modern team shutouts record, which was set by Chicago in 1969-70 when they posted 15 shutouts.
Puck Drop : If the Sharks maintain their lead on top of the Pacific Division, they will capture their fifth straight division title, the longest stretch of consecutive division wins in the League.