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Blackhawks return to action against Sharks

Chicago looks to start March on a high note.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks will face off for the second time in less than a week Thursday, this time at SAP Center in San Jose.

The Blackhawks skated away with a 3-1 home victory over the Sharks on Feb. 23 behind a career-high 42-save effort by J.F. Berube. Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Chicago followed the win with a 3-2 loss Saturday in Columbus.

Berube will start in net against San Jose with Corey Crawford still sidelined with an injury. Thursday’s game marks the first of three straight games in California, including back-to-back games this weekend in Los Angeles and Anaheim for the Hawks.

Chicago (27-28-8), who is on the verge of seeing its 10-season playoff streak end after a dismal 3-9-1 mark in February, will continue to get looks at young players like undrafted rookie Matthew Highmore. The 22-year-old winger led AHL Rockford with 21 goals, including seven power-play goals, and 35 points in 56 games before being recalled Tuesday.

The Hawks have been limited to only two goals in their last two visits to the Shark Tank. One player that could boost Chicago’s offense is captain Jonathan Toews, who is on a four-game pointless streak, but has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 15 games in San Jose.

The Sharks (34-21-9) are in second place in the Pacific Division and hold narrow leads over Los Angeles, Anaheim and Calgary, respectively.

San Jose picked up forward Evander Kane before the trade deadline earlier this week, and he recorded two assists in his San Jose debut as the Sharks defeated Edmonton 5-2 on Tuesday. The 26-year-old fit right in on San Jose’s top line alongside Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi.

Pavelski is coming off a career-high four-point (one goal, three assists) showing against Edmonton. He has had plenty of success against Chicago with a goal and five assists in a four-game point streak at home. His 50 points (16 goals, 34 assists) trail only defenseman Brent Burns by one for the team lead in scoring.

Aaron Dell figures to get the start between the pipes for the Sharks after signing a two-year, $3.8 million deal Wednesday. Dell is 14-5-3 with a 2.71 goals-against average this season, but he has never faced Chicago in his career. If Dell doesn’t start, Martin Jones will get the nod. Jones is 20-16-6 with a 2.51 goals-against average. He has only allowed two goals in as many home starts against the Hawks.

It’s the second of three season meetings against the two teams. After Tuesday night’s game, the teams will meet again Monday, March 26 in Chicago.

Lineups

Blackhawks

Position Players
Position Players
F1 Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Vinnie Hinostroza
F2 Tomas Jurco - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
F3 Alex DeBrincat - Nick Schmaltz - Matthew Highmore
F4 Patrick Sharp - David Kampf - Anthony Duclair
D1 Duncan Keith - Jordan Oesterle
D2 Connor Murphy - Brent Seabrook
D3 Erik Gustafsson - Carl Dahlstrom
Goaltender J.F. Berube

Sharks

Position Players
Position Players
F1 Evander Kane - Joe Pavelski - Joonas Donskoi
F2 Tomas Hertl - Logan Couture - Mikkel Boedker
F3 Timo Meier - Chris Tierney - Kevin Labanc
F4 Barclay Goodrow - Eric Fehr - Melker Karlsson
D1 Joakim Ryan - Brent Burns
D2 Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
D3 Brenden Dillon - Dylan Demelo
Goaltender Aaron Dell OR Martin Jones

*Lines are subject to change.

How to watch Blackhawks at Sharks

Start time: 9 p.m. CT

Location: SAP Center, San Jose

TV: NBC Sports Network/WGN