Blackhawks seek rebound effort against Niemi, Sharks

12:57 PM, Nov 17, 2013   |    comments
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( - The Chicago Blackhawks will try to rebound from their worst loss of the season on Sunday night as they play host to the San Jose Sharks.

Riding a four-game winning streak, the Blackhawks gave up a season high in goals, falling 7-2 to the Nashville Predators on Saturday night. Chicago was 7-0-1 in its previous eight, but suffered its first regulation setback since Oct. 26.

Nikolai Khabibulin drew the start and gave up two goals on eight shots before suffering a lower-body injury late in the first period. Corey Crawford came on in relief and took the loss, yielding five goals on 22 shots.

Patrick Kane and Brandon Pirri scored for Chicago to make it a two-goal game, but the Predators notched the final three tallies of the contest.

"It's tough losing to those guys. I thought it was a rough game for us. I think when we scored that one in the third and they came back and scored right away on that shift that pretty much said it all for that night," said Crawford.

In addition to losing Khabibulin, Marian Hossa did not play due to a lower- body injury that has him day-to-day ahead of a seven-game road trip that begins on Tuesday.

The Sharks, meanwhile, close out a five-game swing tonight, one that began with a shootout loss in Winnipeg before victories at Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton.

They had little trouble with the struggling Oilers on Friday, notching the game's first three goals and holding on for a 3-1 win. Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl all scored and Joe Thornton had two assists.

"Early on we got our game going, lost it a little in the second, but came back strong in the third and got two points," said Marleau.

Thornton is tops in the NHL with 20 helps, with six in his last four games.

Backup Alex Stalock posted 30 saves in the win and Antti Niemi is scheduled to start tonight. He is 5-5-1 with a 2.84 goals against average in 11 career meetings with the Blackhawks, who he helped lead to the Stanley Cup title in 2010.

Niemi, though, was in net for all three of the Sharks' losses to the Blackhawks last season, giving up 10 goals and posting a 3.36 GAA.

Chicago has won six of the last eight meetings overall and five straight as the host.

Crawford is 3-2-1 with a 2.82 GAA in six games versus the Sharks, making one start against them last season.

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