Final OT

Series (Game 4 of 4)

Chicago leads 3-1

Game 1: Sunday, November 15th
Game 2: Wednesday, November 25th
Game 3: Tuesday, December 22nd
Game 4: Thursday, January 28th

Blackhawks 4

(37-13-4, 78 pts)

Sharks 3

(35-10-9, 79 pts)

10:30 PM ET, January 28, 2010

SAP Center, San Jose, California

1 2 3 OT T
CHI 3 0 0 14
SJ 1 1 1 03

J. Pavelski (Sharks - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

T. Brouwer (Blackhawks - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

M. Malhotra (Sharks - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Blackhawks-Sharks Preview


The Chicago Blackhawks made a statement when they visited San Jose in November, but the Sharks have the chance to make one of their own as they attempt to create some distance at the top of the Western Conference standings.

The top teams in the West face off for the final time during the regular season Thursday night as the streaking Sharks look to win their sixth straight.

San Jose (35-10-8) has a two-point lead over Chicago (36-13-4) for the NHL's best record, but it's 1-1-1 against the Blackhawks, including an embarrassing 7-2 home loss on Nov. 25. Chicago led 7-0 before San Jose scored with less than four minutes remaining.

The Sharks, however, defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 on Dec. 22 in Chicago as part of a 16-2-1 stretch that's helped open a 13-point lead over second-place Phoenix in the Pacific Division.

San Jose is coming off a 5-2 win over Northeast Division-leading Buffalo on Saturday. Joe Pavelski's second goal early in the third snapped a 2-2 tie, and Jed Ortmayer added two goals.

Evgeni Nabokov made 38 saves for his conference-leading 30th victory. He's 6-0-1 with a 1.13 goals-against average in his last seven games, and improved to 15-4-6 with a 2.00 GAA at home this season.

"He kept us in the game," Ortmeyer told the Sharks' official Web site. "He was unbelievable and gives us a chance to win every night."

Nabokov has struggled in his last five starts against the Blackhawks, going 1-2-2 with a 4.03 GAA. Still, the Russian Olympian is 7-2-0 with two ties and a 2.48 GAA in his career at home against Chicago.

San Jose will try to avoid losing two home games to Chicago in a single season since 1995-96.

Unlike their last trip to San Jose when they came in having won seven in a row, the Blackhawks have had trouble with consistency on a season-high eight-game road trip.

After opening with a 6-5 win at Columbus on Jan. 16, Chicago has alternated wins and losses over the next five contests including a 4-2 victory over last-place Edmonton on Tuesday.

Jonathan Toews scored 44 seconds into the game and Troy Brouwer, Dustin Byfuglien and Marian Hossa found the back of the net in the second period. Coach Joel Quenneville liked how his team bounced back from a 5-1 loss to Vancouver on Sunday.

"We were very disappointed with that game. But the way we played in this one sets up a game with San Jose where we have a chance to tie for first. That's the way we have to play," he said.

Hossa made his season debut against the Sharks in November, tallying two goals. The high-scoring forward has nine goals during a six-game scoring streak in San Jose dating back to March 2002 while with Ottawa.

Cristobal Huet, who made 22 saves against the Oilers, is 2-1-0 with a 3.55 goals-against average on the road trip. Rookie Antti Niemi has the same record on the swing, but a GAA of 2.90.

Huet has started all three games against San Jose this season, allowing a total of eight goals en route to a 2-1-0 record.