The visiting St. Louis Blues will try to sweep their two-game series against the San Jose Sharks when the West Division rivals face off for the final time Saturday.
The Blues are 4-1-2 against the Sharks this season after a 2-1 shootout victory Friday in Northern California. St. Louis ended its overall five-game winless streak (0-3-2).
“We finally won a game,” Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko said after the game. “It’s a really nice feeling. I was missing this. It’s nice to be the locker room after the win.”
The Sharks are winless in their past three games (0-2-1), and they have won just three of their past nine games (3-4-2).
All seven of the Blues-Sharks games have been decided by one goal, and four of the games weren’t settled in regulation.
The Sharks have tightened up their defensive play, allowing two or fewer goals in five of their past six games.
“We’re playing good hockey five-on-five,” San Jose coach Bob Boughner said.
The Blues matched that commitment Friday after some soul searching. They had allowed four or more goals in six of their previous nine games.
“We had a couple meetings with the coaches inside the team,” Tarasenko said postgame Friday, after he scored the decisive goal in the shootout. “Things obviously weren’t working well. We thought the only way back to winning games, we had to start in a simple place, trusting the system we have and play the hockey that made us successful.
“Today was a way better game, a step forward. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow will be an even harder game for us.”
The Blues got forward Jaden Schwartz back from the injured list Friday after he missed 15 games with a lower-body injury. However, they lost forward Oskar Sundqvist to a lower-body injury after he collided with teammate Kyle Clifford in the first period.
After starting Martin Jones in goal Friday, the Sharks will start Devan Dubnyk (3-7-2, 3.12 goals-against average) on Saturday. Dubnyk lost both of his starts against the Vegas Golden Knights earlier this week, but Boughner gave him a vote of confidence.
“I just like his compete,” Boughner said. “I think against Vegas, you need to fight in net. They do get second and third opportunities, they are very offensive, especially below the tops of the circles off the rush, and you’ve got to stay with it.
“You’ve got to compete, you’ve got to fight in that crease, and he has done a good job.”
Dubnyk is 2-3-1 with a .918 save percentage and a 2.69 GAA in six games this month. Against the Blues this season, he is 2-2-0 with a 4.52 GAA.
The Blues likely will counter with Ville Husso (5-3-1, 3.57 GAA). He is 1-0-1 with a 3.34 GAA against the Sharks this season, with his one victory coming in relief of Jordan Binnington.
Brayden Schenn leads the Blues with six goals in the season series with San Jose. The Sharks’ Logan Couture has scored six times this season against St. Louis.
–Field Level Media