NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, January 5th (All times Eastern)
San Jose Sharks (26-10-6) at Chicago Blackhawks (29-7-8), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Jose Sharks hope to shrug off their recent woes against the Chicago Blackhawks as they visit the Windy City for Sunday's battle at the United Center.
The Sharks have lost four straight overall in this series and were dealt a 5-1 loss on Nov. 17 in Chicago. That setback was San Jose's sixth in a row at the United Center and its eighth loss in the last 10 meetings as the guest in this series.
Patrick Sharp, who recorded a hat trick for Chicago in Friday's win at New Jersey, had two goals and assist in the Blackhawks' rout over the Sharks in mid-November. Corey Crawford also stopped 23-of-24 shots to help Chicago beat the Sharks for the sixth time in seven meetings.
Sharp posted his fourth career hat trick and his second in Chicago's last five games, as the Blackhawks used a four-goal third period to take a 5-3 triumph over the Devils on Friday at Prudential Center. With nine goals in his last six games, Sharp now has 25 goals on the season, leaving him second only to Washington's Alex Ovechkin for the league lead. Ovechkin has 31 goals this season.
Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa each scored once, Duncan Keith collected three assists, and Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews tallied two helpers apiece for the Blackhawks, who have won four of their last six games. Antti Raanta, fresh off being named the NHL's co-rookie of the month for December, turned aside 24 shots to backstop the victory.
"Definitely the biggest factor tonight was our top guys were great," Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville remarked.
Beginning with tonight's tilt, Chicago is playing two straight and six of its next seven on home ice, where the Blackhawks boast a 15-2-5 record this season.
The Sharks opened a three-game road trip on Saturday by losing a 4-3 regulation decision at Colorado. It was the second setback in three games for San Jose, which made a game of it after trailing by a 4-0 score in the early stages of the second period.
Patrick Marleau picked up a goal and two helpers for the Sharks, while Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture supplied the other goals. Antti Niemi was pulled after yielding three goals on 14 shots in almost 26 minutes of action. Alex Stalock ended up stopping 6-of-7 shots the rest of the way.
"We sure don't want to be down 2-0, let alone 4-0 at any time," said Sharks center Joe Thornton. "We played good enough to win from then. It was getting to the point where I thought we could come back."
San Jose has a superb 15-1-3 on home ice this season, but is just 11-9-3 as the guest. The Sharks are set to close their current swing when they visit Nashville on Tuesday.
01/05 11:16:00 ET