Preview: Sharks at Blues

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[February 04, 2016]  The St. Louis Blues are struggling to score goals lately, but it hasn't affected their bottom line much as they begin a three-game homestand Thursday against the San Jose Sharks. St. Louis has scored four goals in its last four games, but is 2-1-1 during that stretch after Troy Brouwer's goal with 1:05 remaining in the third period gave the Blues a 1-0 victory in Nashville on Tuesday and snapped a scoreless drought of 145:58.

St. Louis sits comfortably in playoff position, third in the Central six points behind first-place Chicago but more importantly nine ahead of Colorado in what is widely believed to be the NHL's toughest division. The Blues are also 8-1-1 versus the Pacific Division and took two of three meetings with San Jose last season with both victories by a 7-2 margin. San Jose began a difficult four-game road trip which also takes it to Nashville and Chicago with a 3-2 loss to Anaheim on Tuesday - its first regulation setback since Jan. 7. The Sharks, who are second in the Pacific Division - nine points behind Los Angeles and three clear of Anaheim and Arizona, also had a 10-game point streak (8-0-2) halted while Joe Thornton's 10-game point streak (two goals, 12 assists) also came to an end.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, CSN California (San Jose), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)

ABOUT THE SHARKS (26-19-4): San Jose shares the best road record in the Western Conference with Los Angeles at 16-7-2 and will be put to the test with 10 of its 14 February games away from home. All-Star Joe Pavelski (team highs of 25 goals and 49 points) scored in three straight games prior to the break before he was kept off the scoresheet against Anaheim while defenseman Brent Burns (18 goals, team-most 26 assists) hasn't scored in nine contests. Martin Jones is 14-4-2 with a .921 save percentage and 2.29 goals-against average in 20 road games this season after his seven-game road point streak (5-0-2) was stopped Tuesday.

ABOUT THE BLUES (29-16-8): Vladimir Tarasenko is tied with Pavelski for fifth in the NHL with a team-leading 25 goals, but has one in his last 11 games. While defenseman Robert Bortuzzo missed his fifth straight game Tuesday because of a lower-body injury, left wing Magnus Paajarvi returned after missing seven contests with an upper-body ailment. Brian Elliott (11-6-5, .928, 2.13) continues to hold down the fort with No. 1 Jake Allen out with a knee injury and recorded his first shutout of the season Tuesday to improve to 6-2-1 in nine starts since Allen went down.

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1. The Sharks boast the No. 3 power play in the NHL at 22.1 percent while St. Louis owns the third-best penalty-killing unit at 85.5 percent.

2. The Blues haven't scored a power-play goal in their last seven games (17 opportunities).

3. San Jose's Patrick Marleau is tied for third on the team with 15 goals (Joel Ward), but has only one in his last 14 contests.

PREDICTION: Blues 2, Sharks 1

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