In the Crease: Sharks vs. Blues

Highlights: Sharks 3, Senators 2

In the Crease: Sharks vs. Blues
October 15, 2013, 8:00 am
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This is the first of two trips the Sharks will make to St. Louis this season, as they’ll return on Dec. 17. (USATSI)

Programming note: Sharks-Blues coverage gets underway today at 5 p.m. on NBCSN. Can't find a TV? Watch it streaming live with NBC Sports Live Extra

Where they stand
Sharks: 5-0-0, 10 points, 1st Pacific Division, 1st Western Conference
Blues: 4-0-0, 8 points, 2nd Central Division, 3rd Western Conference

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 4.80 (1st)
Goals-against per game: 1.40 (2nd)
Power play: 21.7 percent (14th)
Penalty kill: 78.6 percent (19th)

Blues
Goals per game: 4.75 (2nd)
Goals-against per game: 1.75 (4th)
Power play: 37.5 percent (1st)
Penalty kill: 77.8 percent (20th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Tyler Kennedy – Logan Couture – Patrick Marleau
Matt Nieto – Joe Pavelski – Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard – Andrew Desjardins – Matt Pelech

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Matt Irwin – Dan Boyle
Scott Hannan – Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Blues
Alex Steen – David Backes – T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz – Patrik Berglund – Vladimir Tarasenko
Brenden Morrow – Derek Roy – Chris Stewart
Vladimir Sobotka – Maxim Lapierre – Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester – Alex Pietrangelo
Jordan Leopold – Kevin Shattenkirk
Barret Jackman – Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Last game

Sharks: Brent Burns’ goal broke a third period tie in helping the Sharks their fifth straight win to open the season, 3-2. San Jose trailed 2-1 before Patrick Marleau tied it in the second, and Tomas Hertl opened the scoring with his league-leading seventh goal in the opening minute. Hertl later left the game after getting hit by Ottawa’s Clarke MacArthur, but Todd McLellan said on Sunday he expects Hertl to play against the Blues. San Jose outshot Ottawa, 50-23, and Antti Niemi made 21 saves.

[RELATED: Hertl expected to play Tuesday]

Blues: David Backes scored twice as the Blues moved to 4-0-0 for the first time in franchise history with a 5-3 win over the Rangers. Alex Steen also scored, and Derek Roy and Vladimir Tarasenko added power play markers for the league’s top unit. Steen, who leads the Blues with eight points, has one goal in each of the first four games. Jaroslav Halak has played and won all four games in net.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Patrick Marleau. The Sharks’ winger has at least one point in each of the first five games, and has scored a goal in each of the last two. He’s second on the team in goals with four, and seems to be gaining some chemistry with new linemate Tyler Kennedy. Against the Blues, Marleau has 29 points (12g, 17a) in 60 career games.

Blues: Alex Steen. The highly-skilled Blues winger is tied for second in the league in scoring (with Tomas Hertl, among others) with four goals and four assists. He’s the first St. Louis player with that many points through four games since Paul Kariya in 2008-09. Steen has nine points (2g, 7a) in 13 career games against San Jose.

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery), Marty Havlat (offseason pelvic surgery), Adam Burish (lower body), and Brad Stuart (suspension) are out. Tomas Hertl (upper body) and Brent Burns (upper body) are questionable.

Blues: None.

Season/All-Time series

This is the first of two trips the Sharks will make to St. Louis this season, as they’ll return on Dec. 17. The Blues visit SAP Center on Nov. 29.

St. Louis is 6-1-0 against the Sharks since the start of the 2011-12 season, posting the best record of any Western Conference team against San Jose in that span. The Blues beat the Sharks in the first round of the 2012 playoffs in five games, too.

The Sharks are 32-43-2-6 all-time against the Blues.

Quoteable

“They’ll be excited. They always play us hard. We know what will be coming, what to expect, and we’ll have to bring our game, too.” – Joe Pavelski

Burning question

Other than the Sharks and Blues, who is the best team in the Western Conference so far, and why? Leave your answer in the comments section below.