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:
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
Injured: Matt Nieto (undisclosed)
Scratched: Matt Tennyson, Dylan DeMelo, Micheal Haley
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
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.