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Blues' Tarasenko expected to play against Sharks

St. Louis forward missed morning skate for birth of son; San Jose could shift Marleau to third line

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

Game 2: SHARKS at BLUES

Western Conference Final

St. Louis leads best-of-7 series 1-0

TV: 8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko missed the morning skate before Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks at Scottrade Center on Tuesday to be with his wife Yana, who gave birth to the couple's first child, a boy named Aleksandr.

Tarasenko, who is tied for third in the League with seven goals and is tied for the Blues lead with 13 points, is expected to play Tuesday but coach Ken Hitchcock said he understands family comes first.

"Yeah, he's pretty excited," Hitchcock said of Tarasenko. "Hockey's not a priority. But you know what? If something happened, he wasn't able to come here, the priority is to be with his family. We all understand that. We'll support him 100 percent on it.

"But our assumption is that he'll be here ready for game."

The Sharks could have a new look to their forward lines, with Patrick Marleau possibly moving from second-line left wing to third-line center to better balance the lineup.

Whatever changes that might be made, the Sharks feel they need to have more desperation in their game than they had in their 2-1 loss in Game 1.

"Very urgent," Sharks right wing Joe Pavelski said. "Every game counts, every win matters. If we can come out of here with a split that would be a pretty good start for us. You don't want to go down in a 2-0 hole. The urgency will be there.

Said Sharks center Logan Couture: "It's another chance to redeem ourselves. We didn't play our best game in Game 1. The chances that we've had to play a better game in these playoffs, we've done that. So another opportunity for us."

Hitchcock said playing the Sharks is much like when the Blues played the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2013. That means for the Blues, clean transitioning the puck out of the defensive zone is paramount.

"They're a team that gets the puck deep," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said of the Sharks. "They're bringing forwards fast. We have to make sure we work together as one unit. To get the puck out is key I think. Whenever us defensemen get it up to the forwards, they can do what they do best."

Here are the projected lineups:

SHARKS

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Joonas Donskoi

Melker Karlsson - Chris Tierney - Joel Ward

Dainius Zubrus - Nick Spaling - Tommy Wingels

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Roman Polak

Martin Jones

James Reimer

Injured: Matt Nieto (undisclosed)

Scratched: Matt Tennyson, Dylan DeMelo, Micheal Haley

BLUES

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer

Patrik Berglund - Alexander Steen - David Backes

Steve Ott - Kyle Brodziak - Scottie Upshall

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Injured: None

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Ryan Reaves, Magnus Paajarvi, Dmitrij Jaskin, Petteri Lindbohm, Chris Butler, Peter Harrold, Ty Rattie, Anders Nilsson

Status report: Jaskin skated in Tarasenko's spot at right wing with Schwartz and Lehtera. There were no other changes to the forward lines, making it likely Tarasenko will play. ... Nieto continues to skate but is day-to-day. "He's not playing tonight," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "The fact he's on the ice every day, he's getting better. He'll be day-to-day and we'll keep evaluating."

Who's hot: Backes has two goals and three assists during a four-game point streak, and has five goals and four assists the past seven games. ... Couture has three goals and four assists in the past five games.

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