Blackhawks, Sharks battle for conference lead
Tuesday, 12.22.2009 / 7:00 PM
Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor
SHARKS (21-8-7) at BLACKHAWKS (23-8-3)
: San Jose 5-2-3; Chicago 7-2-1.
: This is the third of four meetings between the teams this season. The Blackhawks have taken the first two games -- a 4-3 overtime win in Chicago on Nov. 15 before a 7-2 thrashing at HP Pavilion just 10 nights later.
: First place in the Western Conference is on the line in this one following the Sharks' 4-2 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday. It also is a chance for San Jose to avenge the first two meetings between these powerhouses this season.
: Todd McLellan's club appears to be back on the right track as San Jose has notched back-to-back victories after losing five straight. McLellan's decision to reunite the trio of Patrick Marleau
, Joe Thornton
and Dany Heatley on Monday paid immediate dividends as Marleau scored twice and Heatley had a pair of assists at Dallas.
''We wanted to shake some things up,'' McLellan said. ''Putting them back together was a natural.''
: Chicago is rolling, as it improved to 4-0 on its five-game homestand with Sunday's 3-0 win against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. Cristobal Huet
made 20 saves for his second straight shutout, earning him NHL First Star of the Week honors.
"We respect Detroit very much, even though they're missing a lot of top guys, and key guys," Huet said. "We knew it would be a tight game, so we were disciplined and it paid off."
: Marleau's pair of goals on Monday give him a team-leading 23 for the season, while Thornton notched his 49th point. … Huet has turned aside all 47 shots in his last two appearances and hasn't allowed a goal in 141:21. Jonathan Toews
has a four-game points streak.
: Sharks forward Brad Staubitz (face) is awaiting clearance from doctors to return to action, while Jody Shelley (hand) is day-to-day. … Blackhawks forward Adam Burish is out until at least March with a knee injury, while Dave Bolland
(back) is out 12-16 weeks. Ben Eager (upper body) is day-to-day, as is defenseman Cam Barker (lower body).
: Chicago has notched three shutouts during this four-game winning streak. The Blackhawks have also won five in a row and 13 of the last 14 in the Windy City.
: "We always want to be our best. This (Detroit) team has been a good for a long time. Do we want to measure ourselves? I think we want to do that against every team, every time." -- Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith
after Sunday's 3-0 win against the Red Wings