If it's mid-November in Chicago, it must be time for the circus. If you're a Chicago Blackhawk, that means it's time for the "Circus Trip."
The Blackhawks hit the road this week, making their Sunday night visit from the San Jose Sharks that much more important. It's their final home game this month; Chicago spends the next two weeks touring North America while playing seven in a row on the road.
For the Sharks, Chicago is the final stop on a five-game trip on which they're 3-0-1. After a 5-4 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets last Sunday, the Sharks swept the three Western Canada teams for the first time in franchise history, including a 3-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.
Here's a look at all the action on a busy Sunday:
Columbus Blue Jackets at Ottawa Senators – The Blue Jackets are beginning their own five-game trip through Canada with a matinee at Canadian Tire Centre. It's a game between teams headed in opposite directions. The Blue Jackets are 1-5-3 in their past nine games and had to settle for a single point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, a game they led 2-0 in the first period. Ottawa has won four of five and is coming off a 4-2 home victory against the Boston Bruins in which it trailed 2-0 before running off four unanswered goals.
St. Louis Blues at Washington Capitals – The Blues are also starting a road trip; they play their next three away from Scottrade Center, where St. Louis has played 12 of its first 18 games. The Blues have won nine of them, including a 4-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. The NHL's leading goal-scorer will be on the ice at Verizon Center, but it's not Washington captain Alex Ovechkin. Blues forward Alexander Steen is tops in goals (17) and points (26). Ovechkin is second in the League with 15 goals, including one on Friday night when the Capitals rallied from a 3-1 third-period deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 in a shootout on the road.
Los Angeles Kings at New York Rangers – The Kings are going for the rare triple sweep; they've already beaten the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils on their swing through the metropolitan area. L.A. hasn't allowed a goal in its past four periods and is coming off a 2-0 win against the Devils on Friday. The Kings got to sit and rest Saturday while the Rangers ended an eight-game losing streak at Bell Centre with a 1-0 victory against the Montreal Canadiens. Henrik Lundqvist figures to be back in goal after rookie Cam Talbot beat Carey Price and the Canadiens for his first NHL shutout.
San Jose Sharks at Chicago Blackhawks – The Sharks spent Saturday night in Chicago, and you can be sure they had a better time than the Blackhawks did. Chicago flew home licking its wounds after being routed 7-2 by the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. They also lost backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who left in the first period with a lower-body injury – meaning that Corey Crawford didn't get the night off he was scheduled for. This is San Jose's fifth game in eight days in five cities; they get three days off before beginning a three-game homestand.
Winnipeg Jets at Minnesota Wild – Don't be surprised if this game goes to a shootout; both teams play a lot of them. Winnipeg brings a four-game winning streak to Xcel Energy Center, with the past three all decided in shootouts. Minnesota has won three in a row, including back-to-back shootout wins before edging the Florida Panthers 3-2 in regulation on Friday. The Wild are 6-0-1 this month and have won five in a row at home; they embark on a four-game trip after this one.
Dallas Stars at Vancouver Canucks – The Stars are one win away from emulating the Sharks and sweeping all three Western Canada teams. Dallas has had a couple of days off to enjoy the 7-3 victory against the Calgary Flames, a game in which Tyler Seguin scored four goals and Jamie Benn had a goal and five assists. Like the Stars, the Canucks have been off since Thursday, but they're coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena in which they allowed a sixth-attacker goal that took the game to overtime and a power-play goal in OT. Vancouver expects to have center Jannik Hansen back in the lineup after he missed 10 games with an upper-body injury.