Playing at home, the San Jose Sharks haven’t been able to solve the St. Louis Blues over the past few years, but that task may get a little easier Thursday night.
The Sharks hope to snap a four-game home skid to the short-handed and struggling Blues at SAP Center.
This is the second of three meetings this season. On Feb. 20, Mikkel Boedker had a goal and an assist and Martin Jones stopped 31 shots to lift the Sharks to a 3-2 win in St Louis.
But since Dec. 20, 2014, San Jose has been blanked twice and outscored 16-3 in its home regular-season matchups. St. Louis, though, begins the California portion of a crucial road trip looking to avoid its ninth loss in 10 games.
That slump has dropped the Blues to 11th in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, San Jose (35-22-9) is third in the Pacific Division, one point behind the Anaheim Ducks with a game in hand.
After winning the first two contests of a six-game stretch at home, the Sharks dropped a 4-2 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday as Evander Kane collected his first goal in a Sharks uniform and added an assist.
Acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline, Kane has four helpers and five points in three games with San Jose. He also has seven points (three goals, four assists) in a five-game scoring streak.
“He’s been great,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “He’s a world-class player. You add a world-class player to your lineup, it makes everybody better.”
Timo Meier, who is scheduled to play in his 100th NHL game, has three goals in his last five contests, and is one of 10 Sharks with at least 10 goals.
Jones has split six decisions in his career versus St. Louis while with the Sharks, but two of the losses came at home and San Jose failed to score in either contest. Aaron Dell lost in his only home appearance against the Blues last March 16.
St. Louis (35-26-5) is still in the mix for a postseason spot, but its hopes of playing past the regular season took a huge hit Saturday.
Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester needs hip surgery and will miss up to six months, and forward Scottie Upshall will be re-evaluated in four to six weeks after spraining his left MCL. The 15-year veterans were injured in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars.
Bouwmeester missed the first 21 games of season with a broken left ankle. He also missed nine games in December with an undisclosed injury and one in January for the birth of a child. He had two goals and five assists in 35 games.
“We know he was playing on borrowed time, I would say,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “We were hoping he was going to get through the season, but we knew there was really only so much life left in that hip of his. Very safe to say he gave us absolutely everything he had.”
Upshall logged seven goals and 11 assists in 61 games and provided a gritty edge.
“Losing those two guys is big. Big parts of our room, but they’ll be around pushing us from behind the scenes,” said winger Alexander Steen, who has two goals and four assists in a three-game points streak in San Jose.
While Bouwmeester and Upshall are sidelined, St. Louis still has center Brayden Schenn, winger Vladimir Tarasenko and goaltender Carter Hutton.
Schenn, who is slated to play in his 500th NHL game, leads the club with 57 points (24 goals, 33 assists). He needs three points to set a single-season high.
Tarasenko has a team-best 26 goals and is second with 56 points. He has scored three goals, including two with the man advantage, in his last two games versus San Jose.
Hutton notched two shutouts and yielded one goal in three career starts at the Shark Tank. He’s 16-7-3 with a 2.02 goals-against average and three shutouts this season. Hutton stopped 20 of 23 shots in last month’s loss the Sharks.
The teams will meet against March 27 in St. Louis.