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Hawks try to keep rolling against Sharks

by Davis Harper

SHARKS (15-10-1) at BLACKHAWKS (17-8-4)


LAST 10: San Jose 5-5-0; Chicago 5-4-1

Season Series: This is the second of four season meetings. In the first, former Blackhawk Antti Niemi recorded his only shutout of the season in a 1-0 victory on Nov. 23 in San Jose.

Big Story: The well-rested Hawks, who've had a couple of days off, catch the Sharks on the second night of a back-to-back on the road -- and coming off a 1-0 loss at St. Louis on Saturday night.

Team Scope:

Sharks : After a convincing 5-2 home win against Dallas on Thursday, San Jose began a three-game road trip Saturday with a 1-0 loss in St. Louis. Blues goalie Brian Elliott held a balanced Sharks attack - all four lines had at least a goal against Dallas - scoreless on 24 shots for his fourth shutout of the season. Coach Todd McLellan characterized the game as an "April-May game."

"A lot of tight checking, a lot of playoff-style grinding along the boards. Not many chances for either team," McLellan said. "They got the one (goal) and we didn't."

San Jose didn't lack for power-play opportunities - the Sharks had six, all of which they squandered.

Blackhawks: Chicago has won five of seven - the two losses both coming at the hands of Phoenix - and is top of the Central Division with 38 points. The Hawks had two days off after a 3-2 overtime win on Long Island on Thursday, a night that saw Marian Hossa set up Patrick Sharp for the OT winner after scoring his 400th career goal earlier in the game. Ray Emery improved to 5-1-2 by making 31 saves, and coach Joel Quenneville said Emery - usually the backup to Corey Crawford - will start against the Sharks.

"He just seems to progress in games," Quenneville said of Emery, who will make his third start in four games. "He's excited, especially when games are on the line. He's very solid, he finds pucks and his concentration level is in the right place. He moves well, seems big and looks comfortable and confident in the net."

Who's Hot: There's no better one-two punch in hockey than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp. Toews has seven goals and six assists in his last seven games, while Sharp has eight goals and three assists in the same span. Both are in the top 10 League-wide for goals.

Injury Report: San Jose defensemen Douglas Murray and Jim Vandermeer both missed Saturday's game with St. Louis with respective hand injuries. … Chicago is healthy.

Stat Pack: The thought of getting a crack at San Jose's 28th-ranked penalty-kill unit (74.4 percent) has to have Chicago's top line salivating. Though Chicago is just ninth in the League at 19.4 percent, the Hawks have been getting better of late. Both Sharp and Hossa have two power-play goals each over the past four games.

Puck Drop: "Hossa is a pretty amazing player. You think of him, I don't think about his offense, but 400 is an amazing number. He should be proud of that achievement, and at the same time his overall game, which makes him special." - Quenneville on Hossa scoring the 400th goal of his career in the win against the Islanders.

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