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Apr 5, 2024 2:11 pm

Blues can’t afford another setback against Sharks

st. louis blues sharks

The St. Louis Blues will work to keep their slim Stanley Cup playoff hopes alive when they visit the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

St. Louis (40-32-4) sits seven points behind Los Angeles for the second wild card from the Western Conference with six games remaining. The Blues had won eight of their previous 11 games (8-2-1) before a 6-3 loss at the Nashville Predators on Thursday while the Kings were beating the Sharks 2-1.

Brandon Saad, Jake Neighbours and Jordan Kyrou scored for the Blues. Justin Faulk had two assists, and Jordan Binnington made 25 saves.

“I thought we were the better team for most of the night,” Blues forward Robert Thomas said. “Frustrating result, obviously. I think we did a lot of really good things and just couldn’t find a way to bury our chances.”

Juuse Saros made 44 saves for the Predators, who had lost three straight.

The Blues trailed 4-1 early in the third period. They got to within 4-3 but couldn’t get the equalizer against Saros before Nashville scored twice into the empty net.

“Some nights you’ve got to try and lock it down in order to win a game,” Faulk said. “You might have to be a low-scoring game because you know you’re going against a good goalie and a team that tries to play pretty tight defensively, not open it up too much.”

Saad has eight points (six goals, two assists) in his past seven games.

San Jose (17-50-8) meanwhile, is playing out the string. The Sharks are 2-17-3 over their past 22 games following the loss to the Kings.

The news was better off the ice Thursday as San Jose announced the signing of free-agent forward Collin Graf to a standard, entry level contract that begins immediately.

Graf, 21, led Quinnipiac University in scoring with 49 points and 22 goals, and was second on the club with 27 assists in the 2023-24 season en route to being named to the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Top 10 finalists list for the second year in a row.

“Graf has excelled at the collegiate level, finishing as a Hobey Baker Top-10 finalist for the last two seasons,” Sharks GM Mike Grier said. “His on-ice awareness allows him to process the game at a high level, and he is a unique player with a quality 200-foot game who excels in the offensive zone.

“We are excited to have him join the organization.”

The date for his San Jose debut has not been announced.

Against the Kings, Klim Kostin scored, and Mackenzie Blackwood made 25 saves for the Sharks, who are 1-10-1 in their past 12 games.

“I thought we learned and got better as some of the game went on as far as gapping up and not letting them build that speed through the neutral zone,” Sharks forward Luke Kunin said.

If the Blues fall just short of a playoff berth, they may rue their performance against the Sharks in 2023-24.

Two of San Jose’s 17 wins have come against the Blues: 5-1 at home on Nov. 16, and 4-0 at St. Louis on March 30.

–Field Level Media

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