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Sharks host Blackhawks trying for third win in row

by Brian Hedger

BLACKHAWKS (40-21-6) at SHARKS (34-26-8)

TV: NHLN-US, SN, WGN, CSN-CA

Season series: The Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks will decide the winner of the three-game set. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford and Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, who won the 2010 Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks, have started the first two games.

Blackhawks team scope: Chicago hopes its struggling power play got enough spark from a 2-for-7 game Thursday to turn things around. The Blackhawks ended an 0-for-15 power-play run in a 2-1 victory at the Arizona Coyotes. Forward Andrew Desjardins will return to San Jose after the Sharks traded him to Chicago on March 2; he's played in one game since the trade. Crawford will start. Forward Joakim Nordstrom was suspended two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit from behind that injured Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Thursday.

Sharks team scope: Since going 10-12-3 in the first two months of 2015, San Jose has won four of five and two in a row. The Sharks are outside the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference with 14 games remaining. San Jose, which is 11-4-1 against the Central Division after a 2-0 win against the Nashville Predators on Thursday, starts a seven-game road trip after this. Forward Ben Smith will play against the Blackhawks for the first time since they traded him and a draft pick to San Jose for Desjardins an hour before the NHL Trade Deadline. Smith has a goal and two assists in five games since the trade, after giving the Blackhawks five goals and nine points in 61 games.

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