With just about a quarter of the season gone, the San Jose Sharks sit atop their division but are also concerned about a lack of consistency on the ice.
Looking to bounce back from a poor effort, the Sharks hope to even their season series with the last-place St. Louis Blues on Saturday night in San Jose.
San Jose (10-7-3) holds a one-point lead over the Vancouver Canucks and a two-point cushion on the Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division. But the club has won three in a row only once and fell to 2-1-0 on a six-game homestand after Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"When we're playing at our best, we see what's successful that makes us win hockey games," San Jose defenseman Brenden Dillon said. "We're not really doing it for a full 60 minutes right now; we're doing it in spurts."
The Sharks have allowed 64 goals this season -- the same number the club has scored.
"You can see the same kind of mistakes happening, I think, and as much as we talk about them and we want to do it right, when these same mistakes happen it kind of deflates us a little bit," said center Joe Pavelski, who has four goals and three assists during the homestand.
Dillon noted after the loss that "we are only 20 games in, but we are 20 games in" and believes he has the answer to the San Jose's inconsistency.
"We know what we need to do in order to be successful and that's putting an emphasis on defense," he said. "We have enough skilled guys in here that we're going to get goals."
One of San Jose's worst outings of the season came Nov. 9 in St. Louis when Blues backup goaltender Chad Johnson stopped 33 shots for his first shutout in nearly two years in the Blues' 4-0 win.
St. Louis (7-7-3) has split the first two games of a three-game swing, but remains at the bottom of the Central Division. Blues goaltender Jake Allen sees some recent improvement, however.
"I think probably the last three, four, five games, we're getting more on the same page and it's nice to see," he told Fox Sports Midwest after a 32-save performance in a 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night.
Allen has lost each his last two starts in San Jose, and with games on consecutive nights, Johnson will likely face the Sharks in his first road start this season. The 32-year-old journeyman is 2-3-0 with a 2.08 goals-against average in six games, including four starts.
Ryan O'Reilly collected two goals for St. Louis Friday and has seven of his team-best 10 markers over the last six games. He scored against San Jose in the first meeting of the season, but has failed to collect a point over his last three games in Silicon Valley.
Linemate Vladimir Tarasenko assisted on both of O'Reilly's tallies and is second on the club with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists). The Russian winger is still looking for his first road goal of 2018-19. He has just five helpers in six road contests this season, and has been held without a tally in six of seven career games in Northern California.
Goaltender Aaron Dell, who hasn't played for the Sharks since losing to the Blues, is 0-2-2 with a 3.20 goal-against average in his last four starts, while Martin Jones is 1-2-0 with a 1.35 GAA all-time against St. Louis in San Jose. Jones' win - and both losses - were via shutout.
The Blues are 7-2-1 in their last 10 visits to SAP Center.