It’s round 2 for the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks as the puck drops Friday night at 7:30pm in the United Center. Chicago defeated San Jose 5-3 when they last met in the Shark tank.
The Blackhawks (10-0-3) are undefeated in regulation, but took a shootout loss to Anaheim on Tuesday night for a sour beginning to their seven-game home stretch. Chicago continues to find ways to get points, leading the league with 23 points, but their strong penalty kill will only get them so far.
During OT against the Ducks, the Hawks had almost 4 minutes of 4-on-3 power play. Even stacked with forwards Hossa, Kane, Toews, and Sharp on the ice, nothing was gained as Chicago fans watched their PP chance tick away. While a majority of the night was fast-paced, Chicago lost its dynamic edge at the worst moments, only gaining the 2-1 edge off a questionable goal by Brendan Saad and allowing the Ducks to tie 2-2 with three minutes left in the third.
The Sharks (7-3-3) have not won a match since their perfect season start was put to an end by Nashville on Jan 31; since then the team has not won a game in February, going 0-3-3. Still a contender with 17 points, San Jose will be out for blood tonight in Chicago.
Chicago knows that the Sharks are one of the fastest starting teams in the league, and they have to be ready to move early offensively and limit San Jose’s scoring chances.
The last time the Blackhawks and Sharks met, the Sharks took an early lead 2-0 before rookie Brandon Saadfound the back of the net to get the Hawks on the board. Then in a flurry of back-to-back goals over 47 seconds, it was tied at 3-3 before Kane took the fourth goal and a fifth on the empty net.
Though the Blackhawks did get some advantage from a penalty/match misconduct on Sharks’ Andrew Desjardinsfor a hit to the head on Chicago’s Jamal Mayers (which was later revoked by the NHL), no goals were scored on the PP.
Ray Emery is to start in goal tonight, which Coach Quenneville says hints nothing at his lack of faith in Crawford’s performance, but rather that Emery has been strong in the net and has yet to start at home this season. Emery is currently 3-0-0 with 2.59 GAA, 0.920 Sv%, and won his last two starts against the Sharks.
Keys to tonights win are going to be taking control of the strong start and getting to the net, capitalizing on the power play, and dynamic forward positioning.
Injury Report: Chicago’s Dan Carcillo is practicing with the team, but not expected back until later this month. Andrew Desjardins is listed on injured reserve for the Sharks.
Blackhawks record: 10-0-3
Sharks record: 7-3-3
Time: 7:30pm CST
Location: United Center
Where to watch: NHLN-US, CSN-CH, CSN-CA
Where to listen: WGN 720, KFOX
Next 2 games: Sun 2/17 v LAK, Tues 2/19 v VAN
(This post appeared previously on thecheckingline.com)