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Sharks mulling over lineup changes

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Sharks coach Todd McLellan resisted making lineup changes to his forward group for Game 3, but after two straight losses, that’s likely going to change.

His team had an optional practice Tuesday, so it was impossible to tell what he had in mind. Not only will a body or two debut up front Thursday night in Game 4, but even within the current 12 forwards, line changes are possible. McLellan started toying with his lines in the third period of Monday night’s 4-3 loss.

The Sharks have plenty of options left to try to turn this series around, McLellan said.

"We can do some things in all areas of our game to get better," he said. "We can look at the line combinations, the potential lineup changes. There’s a lot we can do. It’s 2-1. We’ve been here many times and we’ve conducted ourselves appropriately and come back and won series."

Blues more special

The Blues are winning the special-teams battle through three games.

"Special teams have been a big factor in the series," Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said Tuesday.

Um, yeah. As in the Sharks have given up five power-play goals on 13 chances, scoring only twice on their own power play in 11 chances.

The Sharks were 29th in the league on the PK this season, so it’s hardly surprising that that trend is continuing.

"It has to be better," said McLellan. "We got off to a very poor start [in the regular season]. Midway point of the season, we were very good after we reset everything. The last two games of the year we weren’t very good, and now it’s carried through. ... The big concern is what happened last night, and there’s ways to address it and try and fix it."

Jason Arnott’s power-play goal Monday night highlighted one of the issues. There’s no way that cross-ice pass should get through the slot like that. It’s about having more active sticks.

"It’s about the details, the focus, getting the clears, winning a faceoff -- all those little one-on-one battles," said Pavelski, who kills penalties.

On the other side of the special-teams ledger, the Sharks -- second overall in the NHL on the power play this season -- have been stymied. The Blues were seventh in the league on the PK in the regular season, and you can see why.

"That’s the way they kill; they’re aggressive and move well together as a four-man group," said Pavelski. "Our few power-play goals and chances have all come from broken plays. ... Your routes and different things aren’t always going to be there, so you have to improvise and make some plays."

Veteran Sharks winger Patrick Marleau, without a point in three games, says the little details make the difference on the power play.

"They’ve been winning pucks and battles," he said Tuesday of the Blues’ penalty killers. "That’s something we can do better, is supporting each other. We probably won’t get as much time as we think, so we just need to get shots through and guys going to the net."

Another area of concern is the type of penalties the Sharks are taking. They’ve been guilty of a number of offensive-zone penalties, which are coach killers and actually uncharacteristic of the Sharks.

"It stings," said McLellan. "We’re well up there in this series in offensive-zone penalties. Which is a little disappointing. We have to be a little more aware of what we’re doing in that area.’’