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Sharks host Blackhawks in West showdown

by Brian Compton

BLACKHAWKS (7-0-2) at SHARKS (7-1-1)


Season series: This is the first of three meetings between the teams. The Sharks went 2-1-1 against the Blackhawks in 2011-12.

Big story: It’s a showdown featuring currently the top two teams in the Western Conference. Chicago became the lone NHL squad without a regulation loss after San Jose suffered a 2-1 defeat at Anaheim on Monday night.

Team scope:

Blackhawks: Corey Crawford’s early-season performance (5-0-2, 1.66 goals-against average) has received a lot of attention from the media, and rightfully so. But Ray Emery was downright brilliant Saturday night, stopped 45 shots to help the Blackhawks record a 3-2 shootout win at Calgary.

"That was criminal," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of Emery’s performance. "They've got to call the cops after that performance. He stole two points. He was spectacular. I've never ever been outplayed, out-chanced like that in my life."

Sharks: Logan Couture notched his sixth goal of the season Monday night, but it wasn’t enough as San Jose suffered its first regulation loss to the Ducks at the Honda Center. The Sharks certainly had their chances to extend their points streak to nine games, but ended up going 0-for-6 on the power play.

“I thought that let us down tonight,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “That was, and has been, and will be, a huge part of our team. We didn’t get it done six times. We had every opportunity to at least put two up on the board and we just didn’t do our thing.”

Who’s hot: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in nine games, while Marian Hossa is 6-4-10. … Four Sharks have already reached double digits in scoring – Joe Thornton (3-11-14), Patrick Marleau (9-5-14), Joe Pavelski (4-8-12) and Logan Couture (6-5-11).

Injury report: Chicago has been playing without defenseman Michal Rozsival (lower body) and forward Daniel Carcillo (knee). Dave Bolland missed Saturday’s game at Calgary with a lower-body injury. … San Jose remains without defenseman Brent Burns, who is on injured reserve following offseason hernia surgery.

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