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Sharks host Blues, look to sweep homestand

by Eric Gilmore

BLUES (21-9-2) at SHARKS (18-11-4)


SAN JOSE - If familiarity truly breeds contempt, then the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues are headed for some heated confrontations.

The Sharks and Blues play each other three times in a nine-game span starting Saturday at SAP Center.

"In that sense it makes it feel like a playoff type atmosphere when you get to see a team that often," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "You're going to have to make adjustments right on the hop and adjust to everyone's game. It's kind of fun because you get to do it right in a row and see how each team reacts."

The Blues played back-to-back games against the Los Angeles Kings. St. Louis erased a 2-0 deficit to win 5-2 at Scottrade Center on Tuesday. The Blues wasted a 3-0 lead and lost 6-4 at Staples Center on Thursday. Emotions, Shattenkirk said, ran high in the rematch.

"There's history and it doesn't give enough time to really dissipate," Shattenkirk said.

The rivalry between the Sharks and Blues heated up three seasons ago when St. Louis defeated San Jose 4-1 in a second-round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Last year, the Sharks swept the regular-season series with St. Louis 3-0-0, outscoring the Blues 16-7.

"It's nice that we did," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of the sweep. "I think last year meant a little bit more to us because we hadn't had success against them. We've got to start all over. A three-game series against a very good team. It's going to be a very good test for our team."

According to Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, neither team should be surprised by what they see on the ice when they meet.

"They're a mirror image of us, they play the same way, they exit the same way, they enter the same way, they play the same way in the offensive zone," Hitchcock said. "Their team's playing with a lot of speed and a lot of tempo right now. It feels like every time you come into this building you're down a goal or two early because you're on your heels so much. They're good when they play on their toes and we're really good when we play on our toes. Whoever gets to that element of their game will probably end up winning."

The Sharks have won four straight games and seven straight at home. The Blues had won five straight games before losing to Los Angeles on Thursday.

"They play tough, they play hard, they're a big, physical team," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "When I think of playing the Blues, I know it's going to be a battle."

The Blues have played a little too tough at times recently. In their past three games, they've allowed five power-play goals in 18 chances. The Kings went on six power plays Thursday and scored three times. The Sharks' power play ranks fourth in the NHL, one spot behind the Blues.

"That's what killed us on Thursday against L.A., something we've been a little bit undisciplined in the last five games," Shattenkirk said. "[The Sharks] are a team we know how great they are on the power play."

Here are the projected lineups:


Joakim Lindstrom - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Alexander Steen- Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Patrik Berglund - Paul Stastny - Dmitrij Jaskin

Steve Ott - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Chris Butler - Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Ian Cole

Jake Allen

Martin Brodeur

Injured: Jaden Schwartz (foot), Carl Gunnarsson (concussion), Brian Elliott (knee)

Scratched: Chris Porter, Magnus Paajarvi


Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels

Barclay Goodrow - James Sheppard - Melker Karlsson

Tye McGinn - Andrew Desjardins - John Scott

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon - Brent Burns

Scott Hannan - Matt Tennyson

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Mirco Mueller, Matt Irwin, Chris Tierney

Injured: Raffi Torres (knee), Tyler Kennedy (shoulder), Mike Brown (lower body), Matt Nieto (ankle)

Status report: After being a healthy scratch for two games, Lindstrom will skate on the top line, moving Steen to the second line. Ott moves to the fourth line. ... Hitchcock adjusted his defensive pairings. Bouwmeester, who had been paired with Pietrangelo, will skate with Shattenkirk. Butler will skate with Pietrangelo. Jackman moves to a pairing with Cole, who was a healthy scratch the past two games. ... Niemi will make his third straight start for the Sharks. ... McGinn is expected to be in the lineup on the fourth line after being a healthy scratch Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers. ... Allen will start for St. Louis after backing up Brodeur on Thursday.

Who's hot: Tarasenko has a seven-game point streak (6-5-11). He leads the Blues in points (37) and goals (20). ... Backes, who will play his 600th career game, has a goal and an assist in his past two games. ... Shattenkirk leads the Blues with 18 power-play points, including four goals. ... Goodrow has two goals -- his first two in the NHL -- and one assist in his past four games. ... Couture has three goals and six points in his past six games.

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