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Blackhawks-Sharks Preview

AP - Sports

In November, the Chicago Blackhawks dropped the opener of a seven-game trip then went undefeated the rest of the trek.

After bouncing back from a loss in the first of another seven-game journey, the Blackhawks hope to begin a similar run while trying to hand the offensively challenged San Jose Sharks a fourth straight defeat Saturday night.

Chicago (33-10-13) dropped its season-high fourth in a row Tuesday, opening this trip with a 5-4 overtime loss at Calgary. The Blackhawks fell behind 2-0 at Vancouver on Wednesday, but scored four second-period goals en route to a 5-2 win.

"The confidence is always there," captain Jonathan Toews told the NHL's official website after he snapped a seven-game goal drought. "We know what we are capable of as a team."

The Blackhawks lost 5-1 at Colorado on Nov. 19 to open a seven-game trip then reeled off a season-high six consecutive victories. Chicago certainly has the talent to make another such run after scoring at least five goals for the 20th time.

"Dealing with a season like this where everyone is coming at you - everyone wants to talk about the so-called (Stanley Cup) hangover - I think (coach) Joel (Quenneville) brings that consistency to our lineup where we know what to expect every single night," Toews said. "And if we start making mistakes and dropping points we shouldn't be, we are quick to correct the errors."

Brandon Saad had two goals with an assist and Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Toews all added one of each Thursday as Chicago went 2 for 3 on the power play after going 1 for 21 in its previous seven contests.

The victory was the 693rd for Quenneville, who moved past Dick Irvin into third place on the all-time NHL coaching wins list.

''Certainly it's been fun and we'll keep pushing forward," Quenneville said.

Chicago, which snapped an 0-3-1 slide at San Jose (34-15-6) last season, had won four straight overall in the series before losing 3-2 in a shootout at home Jan. 5.

The Sharks have managed three non-shootout goals while splitting the previous two meetings with the Blackhawks this season and been outscored 8-1 during their current three-game losing streak. San Jose has recorded five goals in five games, which included a 3-2 overtime win over Minnesota last Saturday.

"It's a big concern of ours right now,'' said coach Todd McLellan, whose team has gone five straight games without a power-play goal and is 2 for 21 in the last 10.

After San Jose was shut out this week by Los Angeles and at Edmonton, where it recorded a regular-season club-record 59 shots, Eriah Hayes scored his first career goal in Thursday's 4-1 loss at Calgary to end the team's scoreless drought of 160 minutes, 36 seconds.

"I think we just need to get back to finishing," said captain Joe Thornton, who is in the midst of a season-high three-game point drought. ''We haven't finished particularly well in the last three games and it's definitely shown on the scoreboard. You've just got to concentrate in that last half-second to see where you're going to shoot and put it in."

San Jose's Joe Pavelski ranks among the league leaders with 28 goals, but has none in four games since scoring seven in the previous four.

Hossa has eight goals with three assists in 10 games, but no points in five straight against the Sharks.

Sharp has two goals and two assists versus San Jose this season.

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