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Battle of unbeatens as Blues welcome in Sharks

by Jon Lane /

SHARKS (5-0-0) vs. BLUES (4-0-0)


Season series: The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues meet for the first time in 2013-14. The teams met twice last season and split the two games.

Big story: Two of the NHL's three undefeated teams face off in a nationally-televised matchup that could be an early preview of the Western Conference Final. The Sharks set a franchise record with 24 goals through five games, passing last season's total of 23, and have at least 47 shots on goal three times in five games (twice at least 50). They begin a stretch of seven of eight games on the road against a Blues team that's outscored opponents 19-7.

Team Scope:

Sharks: The Sharks joined the Colorado Avalanche as the only two teams to begin the season with five straight wins with a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Despite losing rookie Tomas Hertl to a shoulder injury, the Sharks played the Senators even until Brent Burns broke a 2-2 tie at 7:08 of the third period off a feed from Joe Thornton.

"It was just a great play by Joe," Burns said. "I didn't have to do much, but I wasn't going to miss."

Blues: The Blues are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history and have yet to trail in a game. Center David Backes scored twice in St. Louis' 5-3 win against the New York Rangers on Saturday at Scottrade Center.

''It's clicking right now, but it's only four games,'' Backes said. ''Four good games, but it's only getting tougher from here now. We're 4-0 and all that means is we've got 78 games to go."

Who's hot: Hertl continues to take the League by storm. His seven goals lead all rookies, his eight points are tied for second, and he was named the NHL's First Star for the week ending Oct. 13. … The Blues' top line of Alexander Steen, Backes and T.J. Oshie combined for nine points Saturday and has 18 points with a total plus-14 rating in four games.

"It's nothing by design," Backes said. "Whether we're left wing, right wing … those interchangeable qualities we have really helps us play fluidly and not have to worry about who's center or who's doing this or that … that's part of our strength.

Injury report: Hertl (shoulder) sat out practice Sunday for maintenance and is expected to play Tuesday. Defenseman Brad Stuart will serve the third of his three-game suspension for his hit to the head of Rangers forward Rick Nash. Right wing Martin Havlat (pelvic surgery) could soon begin practicing in full with the team. Forwards Adam Burish (lower body) and Raffi Torres (knee) remain sidelined … The Blues have no reported injuries.


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