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Sharks' homestand continues against Blues

Win against St. Louis or Arizona loss secures playoff berth for San Jose

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

BLUES (42-22-9) at SHARKS (41-25-6)

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET; FS-MW, CSN-CA, SNE, SNO, SNP, NHL.TV

SAN JOSE -- After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season for the first time since 2003, the San Jose Sharks will have a chance to secure a place in the postseason when they play the St. Louis Blues at SAP Center on Tuesday.

The Sharks can clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Blues in any fashion, if they earn one point against St. Louis and the Arizona Coyotes lose to the Edmonton Oilers in any fashion, or if Arizona loses to Edmonton in regulation.

"After missing last year, it's huge," Sharks center Joe Thornton said. "Get the two points tonight and we're in for sure. It's a nice feeling.

"It's important. Once a new season starts you got to let the past go and come in and make sure it doesn't happen again. I think the guys in this room have done that and the acquisitions have done that. The team's going good right now."

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said making the playoffs is just the first of many goals left to accomplish.

"That was one of our goals at the start of the season was to make sure we gave ourselves a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup," DeBoer said. "It's a long road. There's been some bumps and some adversity, but to our guys' credit they've kept their heads down and just kept working.

"We've put ourselves in a good spot. It's nice to have the opportunity to do that, and when we get it done it's a great accomplishment, but it's just step one in where we want to go."

The Sharks are still trying to move up higher in the Pacific Division. They trail the first-place Los Angeles Kings by four points and the second-place Anaheim Ducks by one.

"There's still stuff to play for," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "We saw L.A. lost last night. There's an opportunity for us to climb in the standings and get as high as we possibly can. So every game is important for us."

The Sharks will also have a chance to sweep their three-game series with the Blues. They defeated St. Louis twice at Scottrade Center, 3-1 on Feb. 4 and 6-3 on Feb. 22.

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones won each of those games, and he'll start Tuesday after backing up James Reimer when the Sharks defeated the Coyotes 3-0 on Sunday for their fourth straight home win. 

The Blues are 2-2-0 on a five-game, 11-day road trip, which ends against San Jose. Goalie Brian Elliott, coming off a 19-save shutout in a 3-0 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, will make his second straight start after missing 40 games with a knee injury.

St. Louis ended a two-game losing streak with its victory Saturday.

"Offensive structure has been good the whole trip," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "To me, a big part of it was special teams. It looked like we were more in sync with each other, the pressure game killing penalties, which gave us some confidence. We weren't chasing all over. And then I thought our power play as the game wore on got more effective. 

"This has been an interesting trip because the best we've played 5-on-5 offensively has been on this trip. We've done a lot of really good things, created a lot of chances, but we've been sporadic and a little out of sync on both ends of special teams. We're going to need everything going today, every part of our game is going to have to be on top end for us to be successful tonight."

Blues second-line forward Robby Fabbri, who left practice early Monday because of lower-body soreness, took part in the an optional morning skate Tuesday and said he expected to play against San Jose. 

Hitchcock, however, said Fabbri will be a game-time decision. Hitchcock also said one unidentified forward is "a little sick" and forward Magnus Paajarvi, an expected healthy scratch, will take part in pregame warmups in case he's needed.

"Robby, we'll see," Hitchcock said. "We'll take him through warmup and then we'll make an evaluation after that."

Here are the projected lineups:


Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin - Patrik Berglund - David Backes

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester - Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Injured: Alexander Steen (upper body), Steve Ott (hamstring)

Scratched: Magnus Paajarvi, Anders Nilsson, Robert Bortuzzo


Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Melker Karlsson - Logan Couture - Joonas Donskoi

Patrick Marleau - Chris Tierney - Joel Ward

Dainius Zubrus - Nick Spaling - Tommy Wingels

Dylan DeMelo - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Roman Polak

Martin Jones

James Reimer

Injured: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body), Matt Nieto (broken knuckle), Matt Tennyson (head)

Scratched: None

Status report: Vlasic, a top-two defenseman, will miss his third straight game and could miss another week to 10 days, DeBoer said. "The good news is with DeMelo playing the way he is, we don't have to rush him and push him back in earlier. The key for him is that he's healthy come playoff time, but he'll be back before that."... Tennyson skated with the Sharks for the first time since taking an illegal hit from Reaves on Feb. 22. Reaves received a game misconduct and was suspended three games. "Tough injury, tough to get a real handle on how long it's going to be, but every time you talk to him I think he looks a little bit better, and every time he works out it's a step in the right direction," DeBoer said. ... Hitchcock shuffled his defensive pairs against Vancouver and will open against San Jose with the same pairs.

Who's hot: Schwartz has a two-game goal streak and a five-game point streak with two goals and six assists. ... Stastny has two goals and five assists in his past four games. ...Thornton has a five-game point streak with two goals and four assists. He leads the Sharks with 70 points. ... Hertl has a five-game point streak with two goals and five assists.

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