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Blues visit Sharks for battle of top Western clubs
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the top teams in the NHL will meet in a matinee on Friday afternoon, as the San Jose Sharks welcome the St. Louis Blues for a showdown at SAP Center.
St. Louis is second in the NHL with 39 points through 24 games this season, while the Sharks, who also have played 24 times, are two points behind in a tie with Anaheim. The Blues are trailing Chicago by one point for the Central Division lead and the Sharks are tied with Anaheim for first in the Pacific.
The Blues enter Friday's battle on a five-game winning streak and will be seeking a measure of revenge for a lopsided defeat against San Jose earlier this season. The Sharks slammed the Blues by a 6-2 score on Oct. 15 in St. Louis, giving San Jose just its second win in the past eight regular-season meetings in this series.
San Jose went 3-for-7 on the power play in the blowout win at St. Louis last month and St. Louis goaltender Jaroslav Halak was pulled after two periods upon allowing four goals on 26 shots. The early-season setback still remains as the Blues' only regulation loss on home ice in 2013-14.
The Blues have outscored the opposition by a combined 13-2 margin during their three most recent wins. The club last played on Wednesday when it recorded a 4-1 road victory against the Colorado Avalanche.
Alexander Steen tied for the NHL lead in goals by potting his 20th of the season in Wednesday's triumph. Washington's Alex Ovechkin also has 20 tallies this season.
David Backes added a goal and an assist for the Blues, who are on their longest winning streak of the season. St. Louis last won six in a row from April 1-11 of last season.
Halak made 25 saves to earn Wednesday's win and is expected to get the start today. He is 4-3-0 with a 2.66 goals against average in eight career games against the Sharks.
"We are sticking to the way we play," said Steen after Wednesday's triumph. "Pucks are bouncing our way and we are taking care in our own end and our goaltending has been phenomenal."
In addition to winning five straight overall, St. Louis notched its third consecutive road win on Wednesday. The Blues, who are 7-2-1 as the guest this season, will try to make it four straight when they cap a three-game trip today.
The Sharks enter Friday having won three in a row and six of their past seven contests. San Jose also played on Wednesday when it improved to 3-0 on a five- game homestand by edging the Los Angeles Kings in a shootout.
Joe Thornton scored once in regulation and netted the game-winner in the eighth round of the shootout to help the Sharks outlast the visiting Kings.
After Logan Couture came up empty to start the shootout, Anze Kopitar and Joe Pavelski exchanged markers to tie the shootout at one. Both teams missed in the third round before the next four shooters each scored to keep the extra session going.
The next four shooters came up empty before Thornton skated down the right side and stuffed a backhander between the post and the left pad of Ben Scrivens to put the Sharks on top. Tyler Toffoli then had a chance to extend the shootout for L.A., but was turned aside by Antti Niemi, who finished with 38 saves.
"Coach doesn't tend to look my way in a shootout, but it was nice to be involved in one," Thornton said.
Pavelski also lit the lamp in regulation for the Sharks, who improved to 8-1-2 as the host this season.
11/29 10:58:20 ET