NHL Hockey: Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks - Sharks Favored
Team Page: Chicago :: San Jose
After winning seven of nine heading into the break, the Sharks (33-18-1) are just 1-2-1 since the layoff, including losses in their last three games. The last two defeats came at home to Dallas, which now trails San Jose by only three points in the Pacific Division.
Oddsmakers have made San Jose -325 money line (NHL Odds) favorites for todays game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 total
goals (View NHL Sports Books).
The Sharks allowed the Stars to score two first-period goals in Thursday's 4-2 loss, their season-high third straight at home. San Jose, which owns the NHL's best power-play unit, went scoreless in six opportunities and is in a 1-for-32 slump with the man advantage.
In the back-to-back losses to Dallas, the Sharks were outscored 3-0 in the third period.
"We get down in a hurry, and we've got some people who look like they're trying to do the right things, and it's just awful," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "Why, all of a sudden, we go from great to awful in 48 hours. It's unbelievable."
In their last seven games, the Sharks are 3-0-0 when All-Star Joe Thornton scores a goal and 0-3-1 when he doesn't.
"You need everybody on the ice working together, and we haven't had that the last couple of games," captain Patrick Marleau said. "When you have three guys working together and two guys doing something else out there on the ice, it doesn't work."
The Sharks, playing the third game of a four-game homestand, head out on a season-high eight-game road trip after hosting Chicago (19-25-7) and Anaheim on Tuesday. The Sharks trail the Pacific-leading Ducks by five points.
While the Sharks have struggled of late, the Blackhawks have won two straight in overtime. They snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 4-3 win against Calgary on Sunday before defeating Los Angeles 3-2 in the opener of a season-high seven-game trip on Thursday.
The back-to-back victories are the Blackhawks' first since Dec. 16-17. Chicago won a season-best three straight from Nov. 29-Dec. 2.
The Blackhawks, who are in last place in the Central Division, beat the Pacific-worst Kings on Lasse Kukkonen's goal 57 seconds into overtime. It was Kukkonen's first goal in 13 games.
"This was a game of bottom dwellers," Chicago center Bryan Smolinski said. "We've gone through a lot of injuries and a lot of adversity. So it has been hard. We're just trying to win hockey games."
A win on Saturday would give the Blackhawks as many victories in the first three days of this month as they had in January, when they went 2-8-2.
San Jose has won five of the last seven meetings in this series, including three straight at home. This is the first of four matchups between these teams in the next six weeks.
by: Gary Roberts - theSpread.com - Email Us
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