All season, the San Jose Sharks have been plagued by a surprisingly poor record at home.
They have a chance to change that as they start a six-game homestand on Saturday, looking to earn their 10th consecutive win against the struggling Chicago Blackhawks.
San Jose (28-16-7) has one of the NHL's best road records, but has gone just 11-11-4 at home. The Sharks, though, have shown signs of changing their fortunes at HP Pavilion recently, winning their last two and five of seven there.
|Evgeni Nabokov will likely be in net for the Sharks, who are looking for their 10th straight win versus Chicago. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
One of those wins was a 3-2 victory over Chicago (23-24-4) on Jan. 22. San Jose has outscored the Blackhawks 33-15 during the winning streak, holding them to one goal or less five times.
The Sharks have also gone 9-0-1 with three ties at home against Chicago since 2000.
But San Jose is coming off a 5-4 loss at Calgary on Wednesday, as a late comeback attempt fell short despite two goals in the final two minutes. The Sharks had won three straight coming in, and are jockeying with Dallas for the Pacific Division lead.
Against Calgary, an early 1-0 lead disappeared when the Flames scored goals 30 seconds apart, both sparked by defensive breakdowns.
"It's getting too close to start giving away points," Sharks center Jeremy Roenick said. "This one smarts a little bit."
Four players scored for San Jose, but Joe Thornton, who leads the team with 45 assists and 60 points, was held without a point for the second straight game. Fellow All-Star Evgeni Nabokov allowed stopped 24 shots in his 50th start this season.
|Patrick Kane, seen here fighting off Joe Pavelski, has scored at least one point in the Blackhawks' last six wins. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Nabokov, who has already made more starts than in either of the past two seasons, has been erratic recently. He allowed just three total goals in the three games prior to Wednesday, but had allowed 15 in the three before that.
He has a 2.32 goals-against average at home this season, compared to 2.02 on the road.
He'll likely be in net to face a Blackhawks team that had scored just four total goals in the four games before the All-Star Break. Chicago didn't fare much better in its return to the ice Wednesday, losing 6-3 at Colorado in the first game of a seven-game road trip.
That was the Blackhawks' third straight loss, a skid that started with last week's loss to San Jose. That followed a four-game winning streak, but Chicago is just 4-9-1 in 2008, falling into last place in the Central Division.
The Blackhawks trailed 3-0 in the first period Wednesday and managed just 15 shots on goal for the game.
"We lost a lot of battles," Chicago defenseman James Wisniewski said. "The puck didn't bounce our way. And they found the back of the net every time. It wasn't just one thing. It was everything that went wrong. It's mind-boggling."
Nikolai Khabibulin allowed six goals for the first time since October, extending his personal losing streak to nine games since Dec. 26. He has a 3.40 GAA over that span. Backup Patrick Lalime allowed just five total goals during Chicago's four-game winning streak, but Khabibulin has started the last two contests.
Rookie Patrick Kane, Chicago's leader with 33 assists and 45 points, has at least a point in each of Chicago's last six wins, but has been held off the scoresheet in the Blackhawks' last seven losses.