From Yahoo Sports:
After having their eight-game win streak snapped, the San Jose Sharks want to improve their focus. The lowly St. Louis Blues have shown more focus on the road for some reason.
The Sharks look to bounce back from a lopsided loss Wednesday night when they try to hand the visiting Blues a season-high sixth straight defeat and second under interim coach Davis Payne.
San Jose (27-9-7) gave up three goals late in the first period and the first six overall in a 6-2 loss to Los Angeles on Monday. Evgeni Nabokov(notes) was pulled after allowing five goals on 16 shots in the first two periods.
“It’s a prime example that you need two aspects to your game,” coach Todd McLellan said. “You better be there physically and you better be there mentally. Physically we were fine. But the mental mistakes were unacceptable. I don’t know where everybody’s heads were.”
The Sharks had not allowed a power-play goal in their opponents’ previous 29 chances before the Kings scored three times on five opportunities.
“We were a little off in a lot of areas tonight,” center Patrick Marleau(notes) said. “We made some mistakes on penalty kill, taking penalties and they exploited it. Our game was slipping a little bit and that was a wake-up call.”
Marleau and Douglas Murray(notes) each scored for the second straight game with meaningless third-period tallies. The Sharks were trying to win nine straight for the first time since Nov. 13-Dec. 4, 2008.
St. Louis (17-18-6) is starting a three-game trip under Payne, who replaced Andy Murray before Saturday’s 6-3 home loss to Chicago. The Blues reached the playoffs for the first time in four seasons in 2008-09 but have stumbled to produce an NHL-low six home wins this season.
“There’s work to be done,” said Payne, elevated from the team’s AHL club in Peoria, Ill. “It hurts in any language, in any league. It’s disappointing.”
The Blues have excelled on the road with an 11-4-3 mark, including a 3-2 shootout win at San Jose on Dec. 3. They’ve given up nearly one goal per game more at home, and they yielded 19 goals in an 0-3-1 homestand that ended Saturday.
“This is Game 1 for me,” Payne said. “What’s gone on in the past, certainly the more you dwell, the more you kind of lose traction. We simply need to focus on how we’re going to gain traction.”
Davis Backes, named to the U.S. Olympic team Friday, has no goals in his last seven games and nine for the season. Backes was second on the Blues with 31 last season.
“It’s a new coach, but it’s the same guys on the ice,” Backes said. “I don’t know how he’s going to motivate or what he’s going to do, but it’s not all him, we need to make changes and stick to game plans.”
The teams have split two meetings in 2009-10, with San Jose posting a 3-1 road victory Nov. 14 as Nabokov made 38 saves. Nabokov is 6-0-2 with a 1.82 goals-against average in his last eight starts against the Blues.