The San Jose Sharks' franchise-best start to the season has quickly given way to their longest losing streak in over seven years.
The Sharks will look to bring their seven-game slide to an end on Tuesday night, but must find a way to score some goals in St. Louis, where they'll visit the Blues.
San Jose shot out of the gate to begin this lockout-shortened season by winning each of its first seven games, closing last month with a 3-2 shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers. The Sharks, though, have gone 0-4-3 since that Jan. 31 victory, giving the club its longest losing streak since dropping 10 in a row (0-7-3) from Nov. 5-30, 2005.
Looking to get a spark with a victory on Friday over the Chicago Blackhawks, who have yet to lose in regulation this season, the Sharks were instead handed a 4-1 setback in the third contest of a six-game road trip.
Tim Kennedy netted his first goal with the Sharks, and his first since Oct. 22, 2011 while with Florida, and Antti Niemi made 33 saves but was unable to stop San Jose's skid.
"We don't look fast enough right now for whatever reason and a lot of that's execution. We'll have to look at the way we play and try just about every line combination possible," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan.
McLellan has yet to find a unit to get his power play going. The Sharks went 0-for-4 against the Blackhawks and have scored just once in 31 chances on the man advantage over their losing streak.
San Jose has also scored more than two goals just once over its skid, getting shut out twice and held to just a single goal in three other games.
That could be an issue given that the Sharks failed to score in both of their trips to St. Louis last season, part of a four-game season series sweep by the Blues. St. Louis has won three of its last four at home versus San Jose, getting all three wins by way of a shutout.
St. Louis netminders Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak both recorded a shut out versus the Sharks last season.
With the Blues set to visit the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, head coach Ken Hitchcock is planning on splitting the starts between Halak, who has not played since suffering a groin injury on Feb. 1, and rookie Jake Allen, who started each contest of a perfect three-game road trip with Elliott struggling and is expected to start tonight.
With Halak dressed as the backup, Allen made 28 saves in Sunday's 4-3 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks, stopping both skaters he faced in the breakaway session. That came after the netminder robbed Vancouver's Alex Burrows on a breakaway attempt with 30 seconds to go in overtime.
"He got a lot of speed built up. I tried to wait and see which way he was going to go. I tried to be as patient as I could and got my glove on it," Allen said.
T.J. Oshie and Andy McDonald both scored in regulation and the shootout, while Patrik Berglund also had a goal for the Blues, who also won in Detroit and Calgary on the heels of an 0-4-1 skid.
Four of St. Louis' next five games will be at home.