Blackhawks-Sharks Preview


Four of the Chicago Blackhawks' six consecutive losses have come during their nine-game road trip - a situation that might have the San Jose Sharks very concerned.

Chicago continues its miserable road swing Friday night against San Jose, which badly wants to avoid a third straight defeat before embarking on a nine-game trip of its own.

The Blackhawks fell 5-2 to Colorado on Tuesday for their eighth road loss in a row. Chicago (29-18-7), which hasn't won away from home since Dec. 14, has fallen seven points behind Detroit in the Central Division and into sixth place in the Western Conference, which it led not long ago.

"It's not like we're enjoying this,'' center Jonathan Toews said. "We're trying to fix the problem. No one's going anywhere. No one's running away from it."

The Blackhawks have been outscored 27-12 during their six-game slide. They have five games and nine days remaining on a trip that was necessitated in part by Disney on Ice occupying the United Center.

"When you get into a losing streak, sometimes it can be mental and play games on your mind,'' defenseman Duncan Keith said. "You're thinking, 'What can you do? What can you do?' I think the best thing to do is work hard and simplify things and everybody worry about doing their job.''

Something Chicago can do is start producing again on the power play. The Blackhawks have failed to convert on their 10 opportunities during the trip and are 1 for 15 during the losing streak.

Steve Montador being banged up likely won't help matters. The defenseman, who has six of his 14 points on the man advantage, has an upper-body injury and is uncertain to play against San Jose.

Several Blackhawks are also dealing with a flu bug that has hit the team, with four players missing practice Wednesday.

While Chicago's woes could be good news for the Sharks on Friday, San Jose hopes it can avoid the same fate over the next two weeks. The club is atop the Pacific Division, but it's lost two in a row and is 1-3-1 in its last five on the road.

The Sharks (29-16-6) hope that's not a sign of things to come with their nine-game road swing beginning Sunday, but coach Todd McLellan wasn't encouraged by what he saw in a 4-3 loss to Calgary on Wednesday.

"This is two games in a row where I thought the opponent had a lot more desperation in their game, especially early, than our group did," McLellan said. "So we'll talk about it tomorrow, and expect to see a different group on Friday."

San Jose has given up nine goals in the last two games after allowing a total of two in winning its previous three.

"Just move on and get ready for Chicago now. ... We'll be better next time," said center Joe Thornton, who had two assists.

The Sharks dropped the two most recent meetings with the Blackhawks on the road, but won 1-0 at HP Pavilion on Nov. 23 for their third consecutive home win in the series.

Thornton has three goals and five assists during a four-game point streak, while teammate Logan Couture has five goals and five assists during a seven-game run.

Former Blackhawk Antti Niemi was in net for the last two matchups with Chicago and gave up seven goals. He's lost four of six overall, allowing four goals in each of the defeats.

The Blackhawks last dropped seven in a row during an eight-game skid Dec. 30, 2007-Jan. 11, 2008.