Sharks-Blackhawks coverage gets underway with Sharks Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. on CSN California
Where they stand
Sharks: 34-26-8, 76 points, 5th Pacific Division
Blackhawks: 40-21-6, 86 points, 3rd Central Division
San Jose is four points behind Vancouver for third place in the Pacific Division, and three points behind Los Angeles for the second wild card spot. The Canucks and Kings each have a game in hand on the Sharks.
Sharks: Tomas Hertl scored a power play goal and Antti Niemi posted his fifth shutout of the season in a 2-0 Sharks home win over Nashville on Thursday. Tommy Wingels added an empty net goal as San Jose has won four of its last five. The Sharks are wrapping up a four-game homestand today, and will play 10 of their final 13 on the road. A seven-game trip begins in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
Blackhawks: Chicago recorded a 2-1 win in Arizona on Thursday, outshooting the Coyotes 45-18 in the process. Corey Crawford got the win in net, is 4-0-1 in his last five starts, and is expected to play today vs. the Sharks. Andrew Shaw and Brad Richards were the goal scorers, as the Blackhawks improved to 5-1-1 in their last seven.
Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Joe Thornton. All eyes will be on the Sharks’ former captain after yesterday’s biting comments towards general manager Doug Wilson. Thornton is second on the Sharks in scoring with 57 points, but has gone scoreless in his last two games. He’s averaging more than a point-per-game in 46 career games vs. Chicago, with 49 total (14g, 35a).
Blackhawks: Kimmo Timonen. The puck-moving defenseman was acquired from Philadelphia after missing all season due to blood clots, and is looking to win a Stanley Cup for the first time in his career before he retires. The 39-year-old is scoreless with a -1 rating in four games with the Blackhawks, paired mostly with Brent Seabrook.
Goals per game: 2.76 (14th)
Goals-against per game: 2.68 (17th)
Power play: 21.9 percent (5th)
Penalty kill: 80.1 percent (23rd)
Goals per game: 2.73 (16th)
Goals-against per game: 2.27 (2nd)
Power play: 17.9 percent (19th)
Penalty kill: 86.2 percent (2nd)
Melker Karlsson – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Matt Nieto
Tomas Hertl – Chris Tierney – Tommy Wingels
John Scott – Ben Smith – Barclay Goodrow
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller – Brenden Dillon
Scott Hannan – Brent Burns
Antti Niemi (likely starter)
Kris Versteeg – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Brandon Saad – Antoine Vermette – Teuvo Teravainen
Bryan Bickell – Brad Richards – Patrick Sharp
Andrew Desjardins – Marcus Kruger – Andrew Shaw
Duncan Keith – Michal Rozsival
Kimmo Timonen – Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Corey Crawford (confirmed starter)
Sharks: Matt Irwin (upper body) is questionable. Raffi Torres (right knee) and Mike Brown (broken right fibula) are out.
Blackhawks: Patrick Kane (fractured clavicle) and Joakin Nordstrom (suspension) are out.
Each team has won its home game in the season series, which Chicago taking a 5-2 win at United Center on Nov. 9 and the Sharks skating to a 2-0 win over the Blackhawks at SAP Center on Jan. 31.
Joe Thornton has one goal and three assists in the two games vs. Chicago, while Antti Niemi is 1-1 with a 2.02 GAA and .940 SP against his former team.
The Sharks are 45-30-12 all-time vs. Chicago.
“A little weird, but it’s a hockey game. We need the points. Whatever individual wish I have to beat them, it’s even more important for the team to get the two points.” – Ben Smith, on playing his former team less than two weeks after getting traded