The Chicago Blackhawks got off to a good start on their annual circus trip. Their last two performances, however, have been nothing but forgettable.
After getting some much-needed rest, Chicago looks to bounce back from its worst defensive effort in nearly four years when it visits the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night.
The Blackhawks (12-6-3) opened their six-game trip, necessitated by the circus occupying the United Center each year, with a 5-1 victory over Vancouver last Wednesday to extend their win streak to a season-best four.
Chicago saw that run come to an end with a 5-2 loss to Calgary on Friday in a game coach Joel Quenneville said his team allowed "five goals that were all preventable."
On Saturday night in Edmonton, the Blackhawks didn't do much to prevent the Oilers from scoring time and time again.
Chicago lost 9-2 in its third game in four nights, allowing its most goals since falling by the same score in Los Angeles on Jan. 1, 2008.
"We are all embarrassed," captain Jonathan Toews said. "At the same time we are going to stick together and remain a team and not point the finger at any one guy or another. We are going to have to find a way to move on. We know our effort has to be way better. The way we played these last two nights was completely unacceptable."
Corey Crawford should be back in the starting role Wednesday after Ray Emery allowed seven goals on 27 shots. Crawford came in and gave up two goals while making five saves.
"We have to remember how bad this feels because we don't want it to happen again," Emery said.
The Blackhawks may be catching the Sharks (12-5-1) at the wrong time. San Jose has scored 13 goals during a three-game winning streak and 20 over a 5-1-0 stretch, part of its current 11-2-1 surge since a rough start.
The Sharks played well on their recently completed two-game trip, beating Dallas and Colorado by 4-1 margins over the weekend.
Marleau has six goals and four assists during the 5-1-0 stretch.
"He gets a lot of points every year but it's the little things he does that don't show up on the scoresheet," said Vlasic, who recorded the first assist on all of Marleau's goals and has a goal and six assists during the three-game win streak.
"He gets rewarded tonight with three goals. It's nice to see."
Chicago ended a three-game losing streak in this series with a 6-3 home win March 14. Including playoffs, the Blackhawks are 10-3-1 in the past 14 matchups after going 0-10-3 in the previous 13.
Vlasic had five assists against Chicago in 2010-11, while Marleau, Thornton and Joe Pavelski each had two goals and two assists. They have combined for 27 goals and 42 assists this season.
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every NHL game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.