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Sharks' Thornton out; Blues' Schwartz back in

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com

BLUES (22-13-3) at SHARKS (20-13-5)

TV: SN, FS-MW, CSN-CA

SAN JOSE -- Center Joe Thornton will miss the San Jose Sharks' game at SAP Center on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues because of an upper-body injury. It ends his streak of consecutive games at 319.

Thornton was hurt in the first period Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks when he was hit hard in the left shoulder by Anaheim's Clayton Stoner. Thornton missed the rest of that game, which the Sharks won 3-0, but practiced Friday.

"I told you yesterday we wouldn't put him in a situation where it was high risk and lead to a longer period of not being involved," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Saturday, calling Thornton day-to-day. "The medical staff made that decision and we'll see how he is tomorrow morning."

Joe Pavelski will move from wing to center on the Sharks' top line and skate with Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto, who had skated on the fourth line the past two games after returning from an ankle injury.

Thornton hasn't missed a game since Nov. 9, 2010, against Anaheim when he served the second game of a two-game suspension for a hit on former Blues forward David Perron. Thornton hasn't missed a game because of an injury since April 2, 2010, against the Minnesota Wild. That was the third straight game he missed after sustaining a lower-body injury March 27 against the Vancouver Canucks.

"In my time here we haven’t had him out of the lineup very often, but it still opens another chance for somebody else and guys have to be ready to play and bring their game," Pavelski said. "If everybody contributes like we did the other night in Anaheim and play a good, tough game, we should be able to make up for what we lose."

Nieto said it would not be easy without Thornton.

"He's a leader in here and it's going to be a lot different," Nieto said. "Since I've been here he hasn't missed a game, so his presence is going to be missed. Hopefully we can get the win for him."

The Sharks led Anaheim 1-0 when Thornton was injured but got goals from Pavelski and Logan Couture en route to the 3-0 victory.

"I thought we played one of our better games in Anaheim against a very good opponent," McLellan said. "But when you lose a player of his stature and caliber and skill level, everybody has to pick it up a little bit. And if that happens we give ourselves a chance. If it doesn't then we'll be chasing it from behind."

The Blues, coming off a 4-3 loss Friday against Anaheim at Honda Center, will play the second game of a back-to-back.

The Ducks have lost six of their past seven games overall and five straight road games, including a 3-2 defeat in overtime to San Jose on Dec. 20. The Sharks forced overtime on Marc-Edouard Vlasic's goal with 20.6 seconds left in regulation and won the game on Brent Burns' goal with 37.5 seconds left in overtime.

Goaltender Brian Elliott will start for the Blues against San Jose.

The Blues activated forward Jaden Schwartz (foot) from injured reserve and assigned forward Colin Fraser to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.

Here are the projected lineups:

BLUES

Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin - Paul Stastny - Patrik Berglund

Steve Ott - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Ian Cole

Brian Elliott

Martin Brodeur

Scratched: Joakim Lindstrom, Chris Butler, Jake Allen

Injured: Chris Porter (leg)

SHARKS

Matt Nieto - Joe Pavelski - Tomas Hertl

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels

Barclay Goodrow - James Sheppard - Melker Karlsson

Tye McGinn - Andrew Desjardins - Micheal Haley

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon - Brent Burns

Scott Hannan- Matt Tennyson

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Matt Irwin

Suspended: John Scott

Injured: Raffi Torres (knee), Tyler Kennedy (shoulder), Mike Brown (lower body), Joe Thornton (upper body)

Status report: Only a handful of players were on the ice for the Blues' optional skate Saturday, so it's unclear where Schwartz will be slotted and how coach Ken Hitchcock will juggle his lines. Despite missing the past seven games, Schwartz is second in goals (11) and third in points (27) for St. Louis. ... Niemi, coming off his third shutout of the season, will start for the seventh time in the Sharks' past eight games. ... Scott will serve the final game of his four-game suspension for an illegal hit on Anaheim's Tim Jackman.

Who's hot: Pavelski scored two goals Wednesday against Anaheim and leads the Sharks with 19 goals. ... Oshie has a two-game goal streak and four-game point streak; he has two goals and two assists during his streak. ... Steen has one goal and two assists in his past two games.

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