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Sharks begin six-game trip in St. Louis @NHLdotcom
SHARKS (36-11-9) at BLUES (25-22-9)

Last 10: San Jose 7-1-2; St. Louis 5-3-2.

Season Series: This is the last of four matchups. On Nov. 14, Dany Heatley and Jed Ortmeyer scored 16 seconds apart in the second period for a 3-1 road win for the Sharks. On Dec. 3, T.J. Oshie and Andy McDonald scored in the shootout round to give the Blues a 3-2 road victory. Carlo Colaiacovo scored a shorthanded goal with seven seconds remaining in regulation to tie it at 2-2 for St. Louis. On Jan. 6, Heatley scored on a breakaway at 4:06 of overtime to give the Sharks a 2-1 home victory. San Jose's Patrick Marleau tied it with a power-play goal with 7:09 left in regulation.

Big Story: The Sharks can count on playing playoff hockey in April. The Blues don't have any such guarantee. They have 26 games remaining and need to climb over at least give teams to get to the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Last season, Anaheim won the last playoff berth with 91 points. Currently, the Blues have 57.

"We're right in the thick of it," defenseman Darryl Sydor told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I don't think you worry about leapfrogging teams. You've just got to worry about what you do and get two points."

"In the era of three-point games, it seems like everybody is chipping away at it," defenseman Eric Brewer added. "It just puts so much emphasis on the teams that are chasing the pile to get points ... that's obviously us. We don't have a choice."

Team Scope:

Sharks: This is the start of a six-game road trip. On Tuesday, the Sharks were defeated 4-2 at home against Detroit.

Joe Thornton scored twice to give San Jose a 2-0 first-period lead, but the Red Wings tied the game at 2-2 after 20 minutes. Detroit then scored twice in the third to give the Sharks their second loss in three games (1-1-1). San Jose has only two regulation losses in their last 12 games -- both at home against Detroit.

"I still think (the Red Wings) are one of the best teams in the League," forward Joe Pavelski said. "We know how to beat them. It's a matter of committing to a certain style."

It was San Jose's final home game for a month, as they will now embark on a six-game road trip before the Olympic break. The Sharks return to HP Pavilion to host New Jersey on March 2.

Blues: This is the start of a two-game homestand. On Wednesday, St. Louis notched an impressive 3-2 win at Chicago. David Backes scored twice for the Blues.

Since taking over for Andy Murray on Jan. 2, Davis Payne is 8-5-3 as interim coach.

"We’re seeing a little bit more of the up-tempo play. He’s obviously got a little youthful energy himself and we’re playing more as a team and for longer, more-consistent periods," Backes said of his new coach. "We were in a shell a lot before that and he’s done a great job motivating us and been able to get us all on the same page and playing as a team."

Who's Hot: For the Sharks, Joe Pavelski has 5 goals and an assist in four games, Manny Malhotra has a goal and 3 assists in four games, Dany Heatley has a goal and 5 assists in four games, Patrick Marleau has 2 goals and 2 assists in three games, and Jason Demers has 2 goals and an assist in three games. For the Blues, Andy McDonald has 3 goals and 4 assists in seven games, and Eric Brewer has a goal and an assist in two games.

Injury Report: For the Sharks, defensemen Dan Boyle (upper-body) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower-body) are day-to-day. For the Blues, defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (lower-body) is day-to-day.

Stat Pack: The Sharks have three players -- Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley -- in the top 10 in the NHL in scoring. … With 37 goals, Marleau is tied for the League lead with Sidney Crosby. … Thornton is the NHL leader with 55 assists. … Heatley is tied with Marian Gaborik and Steven Stamkos for first with 12 power-play goals. … In a 5-2 win against Minnesota last Saturday, Sharks rookie Jason Demers became the third defenseman in franchise history to score two power-play goals in a game, joining Dan Boyle and Doug Wilson. … With two PIM’s last Saturday against Columbus, Keith Tkachuk of the Blues became the fourth player in NHL history to record 2,200 PIM and 1,000 points in his career, joining Dale Hunter, Brendan Shanahan and Pat Verbeek. Only Tkachuk and Shanahan have recorded 2,200 PIM, 1,000 points and over 200 power-play goals.

Puck Drop: "We can score, this team. Some games when we are not playing well, we are still able to win because of that. Some guys can be having a tough night, but we are still able to get two points." -- Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov to the Contra Costa Times
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