According to several media reports, Erik Johnson left practice early Wednesday due to a minor injury. Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said Johnson is OK and is expected to play Thursday vs. San Jose. (Getty Images).
TV -- CSN-CA (HD), FS-MW (HD)
Season series -- This will be the first of four meetings between San Jose and St. Louis. The Sharks took the 2009-10 series with a 3-0-1 record.
Big Story -- The upstart Blues seek to overcome a recent injury bug that has bitten defensemen Carlo Colaiacovo (concussion) and Roman Polak (wrist surgery). St. Louis also seeks to improve upon its NHL-best 5-0-0 home record. The Sharks have been playing well lately, winning two of their last three games. The recently reunited line of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau had tallied a combined 20 points in two previous games before Tuesday's shutout loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Sharks -- Prior to Tuesday's 1-0 loss at Minnesota, San Jose was starting to get things going offensively. Over their last six games, they had outscored opponents 20-12, while compiling a 4-2-0 record.
While San Jose entered Tuesday's game leading the NHL with a 31.6-percent success rate on the power play, it was stopped by Minnesota on all five opportunities with the man-advantage.
"That's the one area where I was disappointed," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after the game. "It looked like we had a lot of hoping instead of knowing. We were just a bit off."
Blues -- When a team is able to get at least one point in eight of its first nine games of the season, then there is a lot to be optimistic about. The Blues have done exactly that this season on the strength of superb goaltending by early Vezina Trophy favorite Jaroslav Halak and a balanced scoring attack currently led by T.J. Oshie (team-best 9 points), Matt D'Agostini (6 points) and David Perron (6 points).
The Blues' 6-1-2 record in October was their third-best start in franchise history, while their current 11-game winning streak at home (dating to last season) is the longest in team history. In fact, things have been going so well for St. Louis that it was able to get two goals in less than two minutes from the usually defensive-minded center Jay McClement to overcome a 3-1 deficit at Atlanta on Saturday and take the game, 4-3 in a shootout.
"Just happened to be in the right place at the right time a lot," McClement said following the game. "Feels good to contribute offensively for a change."
Who's Hot -- For the Sharks, forward Dany Heatley has made the score sheet in four of his last six games, totaling 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) over that span. ... Halak is the hottest goaltender in the Western Conference, as he hasn't lost in regulation since Oct. 14 and entered Wednesday's games leading all Western Conference starting goalies with a 1.71 goals-against average and two shutouts.
Injury Report -- Defenseman Derek Joslin (surgically repaired thumb) hasn't played all season for the Sharks. ... Besides the injuries to Colaiacovo and Polak, the Blues should be healthy. Erik Johnson was banged up in practice Wednesday, but should be fine for Thursday's game.
Stat Pack -- Despite the poor showing Tuesday, San Jose remains at the top of the list for power-play success, at 28.6 percent.
Puck Drop -- The Blues have surprised a lot of hockey experts with their hot start, but if you asked them, it's all due to remaining focused. And it was that type of focus that allowed Halak to keep his team in the game against Atlanta last week.
"I didn't worry about what happened in the first period," Halak said. "I just came out, I just tried to go puck by puck. I was trying to keep us going the same way the whole game."