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Blues ready for showdown with Sharks

by Brian Compton

BLUES (18-3-3) at SHARKS (16-3-5)


Last 10: St. Louis 8-1-1; San Jose 6-2-2

Season series: This is the second of three meetings between the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks. The Sharks cruised to a 6-2 victory against St. Louis on Oct. 15 at Scottrade Center. Joe Thornton had a goal and three assists for San Jose.

Big story: Each team carries a winning streak into the game Friday; the Blues have won five in a row and continue to find themselves in a heated Central Division race, while San Jose has won three straight and sits atop the Pacific Division alongside the Anaheim Ducks at 37 points apiece.

Team Scope:

Blues: St. Louis won its fifth straight game by scoring three first-period goals en route to a 4-1 victory against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Wednesday night. Alexander Steen scored his 20th goal and Jaroslav Halak made 25 saves for the Blues, who briefly moved ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the Central before the latter rallied to beat the Calgary Flames to regain the division lead.

"We are sticking to the way we play," said Steen, who is tied with Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead in goals. "Pucks are bouncing our way and we are taking care in our own end and our goaltending has been phenomenal. We have been getting our chances, and our power play has been clicking, and it helps that we are playing sound offensively."

Sharks: It took a bit longer than they would have preferred, but captain Joe Thornton recorded the winner in the eighth round of the shootout to lift the Sharks to their third consecutive win, a 3-2 decision against the Los Angeles Kings at SAP Center. Antti Niemi made 38 saves for the Sharks, who pulled even with the Ducks in the Pacific. San Jose has three games in hand on Anaheim.

"It's always like this against them," center Joe Pavelski said of playing the Kings. "They're a good team, they're simple, they play hard, they've got some big bodies. We know it's going to be low-scoring the way they've been playing. It was good to get a lead and play. Guys battled and found a way to win one in the shootout finally."

Who's hot: Steen has three goals and an assist in the past three games, while David Backes is 3-1-4 in the past four. Jaden Schwartz has two goals and three assists during a five-game point streak. … Pavelski has three goals and three assists in the past eight games, Thornton has one goal and five assists in the past six games and Tyler Kennedy has points in four straight (one goal, three assists).

Injury report: St. Louis forward Ryan Reaves (hand) had surgery and will be re-evaluated in six weeks. Defenseman Jordan Leopold (hand) is on injured reserve. … The Sharks are without forwards Adam Burish (back) and Raffi Torres (knee), both of whom are on IR.

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