NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, November 26th (All times eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (10-4-5) at San Jose Sharks (17-3-1), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov will return from his seven-game layoff, as the Sharks try to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks for the 13th straight time in a battle between the clubs tonight at HP Pavilion.
Nabokov has been sidelined since he suffered a lower-body injury while making the final save in a shootout win over St. Louis on November 6. He actually returned to practice last week, but with three days off following a test against Washington on Saturday, head coach Todd McLellan rested his netminder yet again.
The Sharks were being careful with their franchise netminder, as the 33-year- old Nabokov played in 77 games last season. He is 10-2-0 with a 2.71 goals against average in 12 starts this year and 12-4-0 with two ties and a 2.07 GAA in 19 matchups with the Blackhawks.
San Jose, which leads the NHL with 35 points this year, had no need to rush Nabokov back. Brian Boucher started all seven games Nabokov missed and went 5-1-1 in that span. He is second in the NHL with a 1.88 GAA and made 19 saves in a 7-2 rout of the Capitals on Saturday.
Ryane Clowe scored twice, while Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi, Joe Thornton and Marc-Edouard Vlasic each had a goal and an assist for San Jose, which moved to 11-0-1 at home this season and has beaten Washington 11 straight times.
Setoguchi (5 goals, 5 assists), Thornton (3g, 6a) and Marleau (3g, 5a) all ran their respective point streaks to five games in the win.
Rob Blake posted four assists in the win and fellow blueliner Dan Boyle had three helpers. Boyle is second in the league among defenseman in scoring with 18 points (6g, 12a), while Blake is third with 17 points (2g, 15a).
San Jose hasn't lost against the Blackhawks since October 7, 2005. Its 12 straight wins over them includes a 6-5 victory in Chicago two Sundays ago. Additionally, the Hawks haven't won in San Jose since March 17, 2003, losing seven straight there after a tie on October 23, 2003.
Chicago, though, does have some momentum heading into this game. The Blackhawks have won the first three games of their current six-game road trip, their second-longest swing of the season.
They began the trek with wins in Phoenix and Dallas before notching an overtime victory over Toronto on Saturday. Chicago is outscoring its opponents 14-9 so far on the trip and has won seven of its last 10 overall.
Dave Bolland netted the game-winner 49 seconds into overtime to lift the Blackhawks to a 5-4 victory. Ben Eager forced the extra time thanks to a goal with 7:33 left in the third frame, Patrick Sharp scored twice to give him a team-high 12 goals and Patrick Kane added his 11th tally of the season.
Duncan Keith and Brian Campbell notched two helpers each in helping improve Chicago's road record this year to 4-3-1. Nikolai Khabibulin made 34 saves.
11/26 11:13:13 ET