A favorable stretch of the schedule could provide the San Jose Sharks with a chance to recharge their batteries and perhaps get back atop their division.
Looking for its third win in four games, San Jose takes on the road-weary St. Louis Blues on Saturday night at SAP Center.
The Sharks (25-15-2) begin play in second place in Pacific Division, two points behind the Anaheim Ducks, but only one point ahead of the Edmonton Oilers. This matchup with the Blues begins a seven-day stretch in which San Jose will play four games at home and one in Los Angeles.
Sharks goaltender Martin Jones said the team must take advantage of this portion of the schedule.
"The first half of the season felt like we were on the road every other week, so it's kind of nice to have a little stretch at home, and we just got to make sure we take care of our home games because they don't get easier down the stretch," he said in a radio interview on Friday.
In his first 14 home games, Jones gave up a total of 22 goals while posting a 10-4-0 record. In three contests this month in San Jose, though, he's yielded 10 goals en route to a 1-1-1 record.
Jones was on the losing end in San Jose's only previous matchup with the Blues, a 3-2 setback on Nov. 17 in St. Louis. The Sharks are 2-4-1 in their last seven regular-season games against the Blues at SAP Center.
The Sharks' top two scorers come into this contest each riding four-game point streaks. Brent Burns has two goals and seven assists in that span, and continues to lead the team with 17 goals and 27 assists. Joe Pavelski has scored three goals with two assists in his last four contests, giving him 15 goals and 24 assists on the season.
Joe Thornton could be primed to end a slump that's seen him notch one assist in his last five games. Thornton has five goals and 11 assists in his last nine games versus St. Louis.
St. Louis (21-16-5), which is playing the second in a three-game swing through California, is coming off a 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. It was the Blues' second straight loss and third in four games.
"We've got 48 hours to take a hard look at ourselves and get ready for the next game," St. Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo said.
What the Blues need to be looking at is their poor play on the road. With a 5-11-1 record, St. Louis is tied with the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes for the fewest road wins in the Western Conference.
"This isn't one guy or two guys. This is a collective effort that, we need to be better," Pietrangelo said.
Two players the Blues must see improvement from are Jake Allen and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Allen is 17-11-3, but he's been pulled early in each of his last two starts after surrendering six goals on 26 shots over just 45 minutes. He got the win in the Blues' victory over the Sharks back in November, and is 1-0-1 with a 2.87 goals-against average in San Jose during his career.
Backup Carter Hutton, who's stopped 37 of 40 shots in relief of Allen over the last two contests, has never played in San Jose.
Tarasenko is the Blues' leader in goals (20), assists (23) and points (43) by a wide margin, and headed to his third straight All-Star game. However, it's clear that Tarasenko prefers playing on home ice -- in 17 road games, he has just seven goals with one coming over the last seven contests.
Tarasenko has one assist in four career regular-season games in San Jose.
The Sharks announced Friday announced that Dylan DeMelo suffered a broken right wrist in Tuesday's 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. DeMelo, who has a goal and three assists in 14 games, underwent surgery Thursday and will miss eight weeks.
Also on Friday, Mirco Mueller was reassigned to San Jose of the American Hockey League. Mueller, the Sharks' first-round pick in the 2013 draft, had a goal and an assist in three games.
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