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Trying to stay alive in playoff race, Blues face struggling Sharks

Mar 25, 2024; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Blues left wing Brandon Saad (20) reacts after scoring the game tying goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during the third period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

As the St. Louis Blues try to stay alive in the Western Conference playoff race, they will take points any way they can get them.

After escaping an uneven performance against the Calgary Flames with a 5-3 victory Thursday night, they will seek a better effort against the visiting San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

The Blues needed a successful offside challenge, which erased a game-tying goal, to beat Calgary. The Flames lost another goal due to a high-sticking penalty.

“When I look at the game overall, I thought we looked physically and mentally tired with some of the plays that we were making,” Blues interim head coach Drew Bannister said. “They got us in trouble, and not to make any excuses, but you can see it kind of going through the room and you can see the effects today with the lack of energy.

“We still found a way to win that hockey game and it’s an important two points for us. Those are games, maybe when you look back when we struggled a few weeks back on the road where we were finding ways to lose games, we found a way to win a game here tonight.”

Despite going 7-1-1 in their last nine games, the Blues (39-30-4, 82 points) are still five points back of the Los Angeles Kings for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference — and the Kings have played one fewer game.

“It’s tough to play catchup this time of year, but at the same time, for us, it’s just controlling the controllables and taking it one day at a time, one game at a time,” Blues forward Brandon Saad said. “We’ll see how it plays out.”

The Blues will face the Sharks (16-48-8, 40 points) without center Oskar Sundqvist, who has been ruled out for the season with a torn ACL. Rookie Zach Dean took his place in the lineup Thursday.

The Sharks have gone 1-15-3 in their last 19 games while committing fully to rebuilding their roster. They are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

After the Wild outshot the Sharks 15-1 in the first period, San Jose picked up its play for the last two periods.

“We’re dying for a win here,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “I feel for our guys, although you’ve got to play 60 (minutes), you can’t play 40. We’re kind of in that mode of playing the first two (periods) really well and struggling in the third. We kind of reversed it tonight. It says a lot that we continue to battle, play the way we did for those last two periods. It would have been easy to pack it in after the first period, and we did anything but that.”

The Sharks got former Blues winger Mike Hoffman back from the injured list against the Wild. He had missed eight games while in concussion protocol.

Hoffman scored twice when San Jose won its previous game against the Blues 5-1 on Nov. 16. Joel Hofer started in goal for St. Louis in that game and allowed four goals in 22:55 before Jordan Binnington replaced him.

–Field Level Media

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