Blues-Sharks Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)
The Associated Press

The St. Louis Blues avoided a third straight loss to open their road trip their last time out with a big offensive effort, thanks largely to a recently formed new top line.

On Saturday, they can push their winning streak at San Jose to three against a Sharks team that's not doing much scoring at home or anywhere else of late.

The Blues (12-9-2) knocked off Phoenix 6-3 on Thursday, matching their season high in goals set in their opener. Patrik Berglund scored twice in a 2:12 span of the second period, Chris Stewart had a goal and three assists and David Perron finished with three assists as that forward unit turned in a second straight big game.

The line, put together four games ago by coach Ken Hitchcock in the wake of injuries to players such as Andy McDonald, Alex Steen and Jamie Langenbrunner, had five points in a 6-4 loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

"The Berglund line was outstanding. They really have a good thing going and hopefully that continues," Hitchcock said. "We were an opportunistic team tonight. We still have a ways to go, but it was good to see us get rewarded."

The Blues trailed by one in the second period before scoring three straight goals to take control. St. Louis moved into a seventh-place tie in the Western Conference as it continued its struggle for consistency since a 6-1-0 start.

"Points are at a premium right now, so we'll take the two points," Stewart said.

The Blues, 1-2-0 on their season-high five-game trip, had dropped three in a row on the road.

While St. Louis has rediscovered its offensive touch thanks to the Perron-Berglund-Stewart line, San Jose (11-7-4) continues to search for ways to put the puck in the net. Like the Blues, the Sharks got off to a hot start, winning their first seven while scoring 29 goals.

Since then, San Jose has managed 22 goals in 15 games, reaching the three-goal mark three times. The club lost 4-1 at Calgary on Thursday as it failed to win a third straight and had a 3-0-1 streak snapped.

"It happens. You go through streaks where you're not scoring and I understand that, but ..." said defenseman Dan Boyle, shaking his head and trailing off as he sat in his locker after the game.

San Jose has gone 5 for 70 (7.1 percent) on the power play in the past 17 contests after converting 12 of 32 chances (37.5) in the first five.

"We got some chances tonight but didn't put the puck in the net," Boyle said. "The power play's got to come through with a goal and they didn't."

The Sharks' 51 goals are among the fewest in the NHL. San Jose finds itself in the thick of the playoff picture due largely to its outstanding defense, as its total of 50 goals allowed is one of the lowest in the league.

The Sharks can also thank their home arena, as they're 7-1-3 at HP Pavilion. However, they dropped both home games against St. Louis last season in regulation.

San Jose did end a four-game overall skid in the series with a 2-1 victory Feb. 19 behind 25 saves from Antti Niemi, who's gone 3-0-1 with a 1.41 goals-against average in his last four starts.

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