Programming note – Sharks-Blackhawks coverage starts today at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 19-11-1, 39 points, 1st Pacific Division
Blackhawks: 21-8-4, 46 points, 1st Central Division
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
***The Sharks and Blackhawks are in first place in the Pacific and Central divisions, respectively, and both bring four-game winning streaks into tonight’s game at United Center.
San Jose will be concluding a four-game road trip, winning the first two via the shootout and downing the Canadiens on Friday, 4-2. Chicago played on Saturday night in St. Louis, coming from behind to beat the Blues, 6-4. They are 5-0-1 in their last six.
***Due in part to travel delays getting out of Montreal, the Sharks did not practice on Saturday and decided not to hold a pregame skate with the earlier start time. It’s unclear as of Sunday morning whether Joel Ward, who was a healthy scratch against the Canadiens, will return to the lineup.
Martin Jones will almost certainly get the call in net. He's 10-4-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in his last 16 games. Chicago's Corey Crawford remains out after having an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3.
***Tonight is the second of three meetings between the Sharks and Blackhawks. San Jose won on Nov. 23 at SAP Center, 2-1, on goals from Logan Couture (power play) and Ward (shorthanded). Chicago visits the Sharks again on Jan. 31.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Sharks: Joonas Donskoi. After he was a healthy scratch in Ottawa on Wednesday for the first time this season, Donskoi returned against Montreal and posted a pair of assists for his first multi-point game of the season. On linemate Timo Meier's goal, Donskoi did some work behind the net to get the puck to the point to David Schlemko, resulting in the rebound for Meier. Prior to being removed from the lineup, Donskoi had just one point, an assist, in his last 12 games.
Blackhawks: Artemi Panarin. “The bread man” posted three points on Saturday against the Blues (1g, 2a), and has nine points (4g, 5a) during a four-game point streak. Panarin became the 27th player in NHL history to reach 100 points in the first 110 games of his career, and is the first to do that since teammate Patrick Kane in 2008-09.
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Micheal Haley – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Martin Jones (likely starter)
Ryan Hartman – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin – Artem Anisimov – Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen – Marcus Kruger – Richard Panik
Andrew Desjardins – Vince Hinostroza – Jordin Tootoo
Duncan Keith – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny – Brent Seabrook
Trevor van Riemsdyk – Brian Campbell
Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.
Blackhawks: Artem Anisimov (upper body) is day-to-day. Corey Crawford (appendix) is out.
“I feel good. I feel strong. [Patrick Marleau] has been really, really good, too. It’s been fun playing with him. But, yeah, I feel my game is coming out where it should be.” – Joe Thornton