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Blues begin three-game West Coast trip in San Jose

by Chris Pinkert / Notes by Brett Barczewski

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Blues enter action just two points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, trailing the Los Angeles Kings (77 points), who hold the final Wild Card position in the West.

The Blues have a chance to pull even with the Kings on Thursday night when they begin a three-game road trip in San Jose at 9:30 p.m.

Fans can follow the action on FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports GO or KMOX 1120 AM.

 

THE MATCHUP

BLUES Ivan Barbashev tied the game in the second period and Jaden Schwartz gave the Blues a 2-1 lead with just over seven minutes to play, but the Dallas Stars battled back to force overtime before Jamie Benn scored the game-winning goal with 1:56 remaining in the extra frame in the Blues' last contest.

"I feel like a lot of times we go into a shell and we just sort of hope to hang on in these situations where that's not the right way to do it," Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the game. "You've got to keep defending, but you've got to do it aggressively. We need more of a killer instinct."

The Blues are embarking on a three-game road trip to the West Coast, where they'll battle the Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks before returning home. All three opponents are battling for playoff positioning in the Pacific Division. As of Wednesday, Anaheim had 80 points, San Jose had 79 and Los Angeles has the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with 77 points - two ahead of the Blues.

"If we just worry about playing the game, it should take care of itself," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said.

"This is obviously a big trip for us. From now until the rest of the season," Yeo said. "… I don't want to say this is the end of a tough stretch, but we've played a lot of really good quality opponents and this is three more good, hard teams we're playing against here. After this road trip, we play a lot of teams that would be out of the playoffs, and so we have a chance to put ourselves in a position here. But obviously teams we're trying to catch, we're going head-to-head with on this trip… big games."

Video: Kelly and Pang preview the game at San Jose

SHARKS Joonas Donskoi and trade-deadline acquisition Evander Kane scored for the Sharks on Sunday, but the Columbus Blue Jackets moved into a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference with a 4-2 win against San Jose at SAP Center.

"They forechecked better than us," Sharks forward Logan Couture told NHL.com after the game. "We played a little slow. We've been playing fast the last few games."

With 66 games played and 79 points, the Sharks are just two points ahead of the Kings for third place in the Pacific Division.

HEAD-TO-HEAD The Sharks won the first matchup between the teams this season with a 3-2 victory at Scottrade Center on Feb. 20. Prior to that game, the Blues had a four-game win streak against San Jose.

The Blues have points in seven of their last 10 matchups against the Sharks overall (6-3-1) and have won four straight at SAP Center.

Video: Yeo on tough road trip out West


HOT VS. SAN JOSE (regular season)

- Vladimir Tarasenko has a three-game point streak (three goals, one assist)

- Jaden Schwartz has 13 points in his last 10 games (four goals, nine assists)

- Alexander Steen has nine points in his last eight games (three goals, six assists)

- Alex Pietrangelo has seven assists in his last 10 games

- Carter Hutton is 4-1-1 with a 1.32 goals-against average, a .955 save-percentage and two shutouts in six career starts against the Sharks


BLUE NOTES

- Brayden Schenn is expected to play in his 500th career NHL game on Thursday in San Jose. Schenn leads all Central Division players with 19 points against Pacific Division teams this season (seven goals, 12 assists).

- Pietrangelo ranks sixth among defensemen with 22 points on the road this season (five goals, 17 assists).

- Colton Parayko's next point with the 100th of his NHL career.

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