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Blues dealing with key injuries as they host Sharks

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The San Jose Sharks won't have any sympathy for the banged up, battered St. Louis Blues when the two Western Conference titans meet for the third time Tuesday night.

The Blues, coming off a 3-2 overtime defeat against the Ottawa Senators on Monday, arrived in St. Louis in the early hours of Tuesday morning and did so without three top forwards at their disposal.

Second-line forwards Vladimir Sobotka and Jaden Schwartz did not play Monday because of upper-body injuries, and the Blues (22-6-4) lost captain David Backes in the third period with an upper-body injury after a head-on-head collision with the Senators' Colin Greening.

The Sharks (20-7-6) are in the middle of one of their toughest stretches of the season at 1-4-1, but they have given the Blues two of their six regulation losses, outscoring St. Louis 12-5.

"The starts have been important both nights," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan, referring to their 2-0 first-period lead at Scottrade Center Oct. 15 and 4-0 first-period lead Nov. 29 in San Jose. "The power play and penalty kill have been good both nights. Goaltending's been very good and we've played a competitive game. Without that, you really limit your opportunity to win. That type of formula doesn't guarantee you success, but it gives you a better chance."

San Jose, which has been outscored 19-12 in the past six games, is simply looking to get back to the way it was playing when it was 19-3-5 and holding the best record in the League.

"Our relentless kind of effort and energy that we had at the beginning of the year is missing a little bit," said Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle, who returns to the scene of where he was the recipient of a check from behind by the Blues' Maxim Lapierre that forced him to miss seven games.

"... Some of that is just the grind of the season and every team goes through it. You've just got to find a way to get that back."

Backes will not play, and Sobotka and Schwartz remain questionable.

The projected lineups for the Sharks and Blues:

SHARKS

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns

James Sheppard - Joe Pavelski - Marty Havlat

Mike Brown - Andrew Desjardins - John McCarthy

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle

Brad Stuart - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Tyler Kennedy, Matt Nieto

Injured: Scott Hannan (upper body)

BLUES

Brenden Morrow - Alexander Steen - T.J. Oshie

Magnus Paajarvi - Derek Roy - Chris Stewart

Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Tarasenko

Chris Porter - Maxim Lapierre - Adam Cracknell

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Carlo Colaiacovo

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

Injured: David Backes (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (upper body), Jaden Schwartz (upper body)

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