Looking to extend the franchise record with its 12th straight victory at home, St. Louis is hoping the Sharks’ road woes continue as it tries to win its fifth straight overall Thursday night.
Despite trailing by two late in the third period Saturday, the Blues (6-1-2) improved to 5-0-0 at home with a 4-3 shootout win over Atlanta. Center Jay McClement(notes) scored twice in a 1:46 stretch of the third to record his first career hat trick and force overtime.
“Just happened to be in the right place at the right time a lot,” said McClement, who was held without a goal in the first eight games. “Feels good to contribute offensively for a change.”
The Blues are feeling confident at Scottrade Center, where they haven’t lost since March 21. The play of newcomer Jaroslav Halak(notes), who is 6-1-1 with a 1.71 goals-against average, has St. Louis on the verge of beginning with six straight home wins for the first time since 2000-01.
Failing in his bid for a third consecutive shutout, Halak made 25 saves and turned away both shots in the shootout Saturday after yielding three goals in the opening 19:57.
“I didn’t worry about what happened in the first period,” said Halak, who fell 26 minutes shy of the franchise’s longest shutout streak of 186 minutes, 15 seconds. “I just came out, I just tried to go puck by puck.”
Halak will likely be in net Thursday as the Blues try to post their first five-game winning streak since Feb. 9-March 4.
St. Louis, though, is 5-14-3 in its last 22 meetings against the Sharks, losing nine of 11 at home.
With a five-game homestand beginning Saturday, San Jose (5-4-1) will look to close its two-game trip on a positive note after falling 1-0 to Minnesota on Tuesday. The Sharks outshot the Wild 36-16 and killed eight of nine power plays, but they were a season-worst 0 for 5 with the man advantage.
“That’s the one area where I was disappointed,” said coach Todd McLellan, whose team is among the league leaders on the power play at 28.6 percent. “… We were just a bit off.”
The Sharks are 0 for 7 with the man advantage and have been outscored 5-0 in their last two away games. They’ve never been shut out in three straight on the road.
San Jose is expected to keep its top line of captain Joe Thornton(notes), Dany Heatley(notes) and Patrick Marleau(notes) after they returned to the same line in last Wednesday’s 5-2 win over New Jersey.
Thornton, the NHL’s second star of the week after leading the league with eight points, has team highs with 10 assists and 15 points. He had a goal and two assists as San Jose won three of four in this matchup last season, outscoring the Blues 7-3 in two victories in St. Louis.
Antero Niittymaki(notes), who has allowed two goals or fewer in each of his last five starts, is expected to start for the Sharks. He’ll be trying to contain Blues leading scorer T.J. Oshie(notes), who has no goals and one assist in five games against San Jose.