The San Jose Sharks played 28 road games last season. Only twice were they able to win consecutive games away from home: two versus the Anaheim Ducks in March and two against the Los Angeles Kings in April.
This season, the Sharks already have a three-game road winning streak, and now have a chance to close out a five-game road trip with a winning record by beating the St. Louis Blues tonight at the Enterprise Center. Game time is 5 p.m. (PT).
The Sharks bounced back from an impressive 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday and improved to 2-2-0 in this five-game swing that began November 9 in Calgary and continued through Winnipeg and Colorado .
They are on Tuesday playing a Blues team that has lost four straight games and hasn’t won in regulation time since a 5-3 victory at the SAP Center in San Jose on Nov. The Sharks are at 5-4-0 this season and St. Louis, fourth in the Central Division, are 3-3-1 at home.
The Sharks are going with the same lineup as they did against Wilde, including goalkeeper James Reimer, who will start for the third time in four games.
“We’re getting into a hornet’s nest here,” said shark coach Bob Boffner. “They’ve lost four in a row and they’ve changed their lines, and we know how it goes. We were just talking about getting ready this morning. We know they’re going to work hard, but It’s more about what we did in Minnesota.
Baufner liked the details of Tuesday’s victory. The Sharks, led by three each from both Mario Ferraro and Brent Burns, blocked 18 shots, stuck to each other in some instances, and materialized on the forecheck.
The Sharks (8-6-1) enter the Pacific Division on Thursday in sixth place, six points behind the first-place Ducks.
After tonight, the Sharks are home for games against Washington, Carolina, Ottawa and Toronto.
“We need equal effort from everyone,” said shark center Tomas Hertl. “We’ve won eight games this year because we play tight and together and we have to do it tonight against a really good team.
“It’s a big game for us because it’s the last game of a quick homestand on the road (before), and we need these points because the other teams in the Pacific Division are winning. We need this game tonight.”
Despite having a .500 record so far on this trip, the Sharks have beaten four teams that played 5-3 in the third period.
“I keep saying it’s a process throughout the game,” Boffner said. “He will pay dividends in the third period, knocking the teams down and working hard.”
The Blues have scored four goals in their last 14 appearances with Man Advantage and entered the NHL’s second-place power play on Thursday at 30.0 percent. However, the Sharks have 90.2 percent of the league’s top-ranked penalty kills, having hit 22 of their last 23 penalty kills. Louis on November 4, the shark killed all four of the punishments he had taken.
Jordan Cairo has two goals and four assists in the power play for St. Louis, and David Perron has three goals and two assists. Tori Krug, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Robert Thomas have a combined goal and 11 assists on Man Advantage this season.
“They work together and Peron gets on that side, and (Ryan O’Reilly) feeds him and they look for that little soft zone, they play a lot of little pops,” Boffner said. “We have to have good sticks against it. Plus, if they sew (pass) you, they’re looking at you immediately backwards with tip plays around the net.
“Our (defense) have to be aware that if we beat once through the seam, we can’t beat twice.”
notes: Forward Len Pedersen remains with the team in St. Louis but will miss his third straight game on Thursday after being injured in last week’s game in Winnipeg. Boffner initially said that Pedersen could miss up to two weeks with a lower body injury after he was hit by Jets defenseman Logan Stanley.