ST. LOUIS — The Sharks built an early lead, survived a scare midway through the game and went on to defeat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 Tuesday night, sweeping the season's three-game series with one of the Western Conference's top teams.

Joe Pavelski, Matt Irwin, Brent Burns staked San Jose to a three-goal lead at one point before Kevin Shattenkirk and Jay Bouwmeester scored for St. Louis. But a third-period goal by Marty Havlat provided the Sharks a little breathing room and they went on to win only their second game in the last seven.

The Sharks may have been the visiting team, but they were well-rested with two days off since a Saturday night loss in Nashville. Meanwhile, the Blues played Monday night in Ottawa and their plane didn't touch down until 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Not that coach Todd McLellan was buying the suggestion that gave his team an edge, noting a recent loss to the New York Islanders under similar circumstances.

"It's us," he said, "not them."

Beyond that, the Blues also were playing without their captain, David Backes, who suffered an upper body injury in Ottawa, as well as two other key forwards, Vladimir Sobotka and Jaden Schwartz, who had combined for 36 points.

Strong starts have become the norm this season and for the 17th time in 34 games, San Jose jumped out to a 2-0 lead with both goals coming on shots that bounced off the back boards to well-positioned Sharks.

On the first, Havlat fired a wrist shot from the left point that caromed to the right side of the net where Pavelski was waiting to beat Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak at 9:38.

Just under three minutes later, Irwin carried the puck into the offensive zone, dished it off and found himself in the right spot when Justin Braun's shot went wide and banked right to Irwin for his first goal of the season at 12:34.

The Sharks bumped the lead to 3-0 two minutes into the second period when Thornton fed the puck to Burns who came around the side of the net for his first goal since Nov. 29 when he scored a hat trick against St. Louis, ending an eight-game drought.

But the Blues found whatever energy they were missing early on and drew within a goal before the second period was over.

A giveaway by Andrew Desjardins wound up behind Antti Niemi at 15:31 when Shattenkirk fired a shot from the left point that deflected off Desjardins, who had gone down to block the puck.

And with 24.2 seconds left before the break and both Tommy Wingels and Blues forward Derek Roy in the penalty box for slashing, Bouwmeester launched a 54-foot slap shot that Niemi didn't appear to see because of a screen set by Alexander Steen.

San Jose made it 4-2 at 8:19 of the third period when a shot by Braun glanced off the post directly to Havlat and he didn't miss the open side of the net in front of him.

The Sharks were unhappy with a penalty to Logan Couture with just 2:01 left in the game when officials ruled he tossed the puck into the stands and called him for delay of game. The Blues then pulled Halak to gain a 6-on-4 advantage, but couldn't close the gap.

The Sharks finish their three-game trip Thursday night in Los Angeles.