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Preview: Blues at Sharks

Goalie Aaron Dell starts for San Jose; St. Louis goes with Carter Hutton

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

BLUES (36-28-5) at SHARKS (42-20-7)

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

Blues team scope

The St. Louis Blues, who did not hold a morning skate Thursday, are four points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference and trail the Nashville Predators by two points for third place in the Central Division. Their five-game winning streak ended with a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Wednesday. Afterward, coach Mike Yeo said the Blues will need to play with more intensity against the San Jose Sharks than they did against the Ducks, especially early in the second period when they trailed 1-0. "I thought a real pivotal moment for me was how we started the second period, and not just the first shift," Yeo said. "I'm talking the first five minutes of the period. We have a chance to go on the power play and to even the game, and I just don't think we went out with enough urgency. Not only did we not generate momentum and get enough attempts to the net, but we gave up a shorthanded goal." Goaltender Jake Allen made 20 saves against the Ducks, but backup Carter Hutton will start against San Jose in the second of back-to-back games. Hutton had a 23-save shutout in a 4-0 victory against the Sharks at SAP Center on Jan. 14. For his career against San Jose, he's 3-0-1 with a 0.98 goals-against average, .971 save percentage and two shutouts. The Blues, who defeated San Jose 3-2 on Nov. 17 at Scottrade Center, will go for the three-game season series sweep.


Sharks team scope

Backup goaltender Aaron Dell will try to extend his four-game winning streak when he makes a rare start against an opponent in position to qualify for the payoffs. "It's good to play against one of the higher teams, a team still fighting for a playoff spot," Dell said. "That shows some confidence in me from the coaching staff." Dell is 10-3-1 with a 1.82 GAA average and .938 save percentage. He made 29 saves in a 5-1 victory against the Dallas Stars on Sunday in his previous start. "[He] just comes out and wins," coach Peter DeBoer said of Dell. "Guys like him. It's allowing us to keep [Martin Jones] fresh." The Sharks (91 points) lead the Anaheim Ducks by seven points for first place in the Pacific Division and are two points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the Western Conference. "I think that's something that's becoming more and more kind of in our sights now," defenseman Brenden Dillon said. "It started off being the division, which is still a very strong goal, and now it's kind of turning into we want to continue to climb. We saw how important home-ice advantage was last year going into the playoffs, and having that Game 7 against Nashville in the second round was huge."


Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Paul Stastny -- Vladimir Tarasenko

David Perron -- Patrik Berglund -- Alexander Steen

Zach Sanford -- Ivan Barbashev -- Magnus Paajarvi

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Carter Hutton

Jake Allen

Scratched: Jordan Schmaltz, Nail Yakupov

Injured: Dmitrij Jaskin (upper body), Jori Lehtera (upper body)


Sharks projected lineup

Jannik Hansen -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau -- Logan Couture -- Joel Ward

Joonas Donskoi -- Tomas Hertl -- Mikkel Boedker 

Micheal Haley -- Chris Tierney -- Marcus Sorensen

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo

Aaron Dell

Martin Jones

Scratched: Tim Heed, Ryan Carpenter

Injured: David Schlemko (lower body), Melker Karlsson (lower body)


Status report

Schlemko will miss his seventh straight game but skated again and hopes to play against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. ... Karlsson will his third straight game and is doubtful for Saturday. ... Jaskin will miss his second straight game.

Who's hot

Pavelski has seven goals in his past five games. ... Thornton seven points (one goal, six assists) during a five-game point streak. ... Paajarvi has three points (one goal, two assists) during a three-game point streak. ... Tarasenko has five points (four goals, one assist) in his past five games. 

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