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Blackhawks continue west coast swing by facing Sharks

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Just six games remaining in the Blackhawks season

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

With the playoffs a virtual uncertainty at this point, the Chicago Blackhawks continue their trek near the Pacific Ocean on Thursday night when they’ll face the San Jose Sharks.

While the Blackhawks have won just once in their last three games, the Sharks are in an even bigger hole: losers of six straight. This comes on the heels of a six-game winning streak punctuated by a 5-4 road win against the Winnipeg Jets. But it’s all gone south since then, with the Sharks’ slump including a 7-3 thumping by the Vegas Golden Knights and three straight losses to non-playoff teams in the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings. This slide has dropped the Sharks six points behind thefirst-place Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division, making a first-round meeting with Vegas all but guaranteed.

San Jose has been without Erik Karlsson since late February and captain Joe Pavelski has missed the last four games, adding injuries to these insults. Preventing goals has been the main source of the Sharks’ recent struggles. They’ve allowed at least four goals in five of their six losses, with Monday’s 3-2 home loss to Detroit the only exception. No. 1 goaltender Martin Jones has been in net for five of those games and didn’t survive the first period against Vegas, only adding to the question of whether or not he can be counted on in the postseason. This is probably the final swing at a Cup run for San Jose’s current generation of players, and they went all in during the offseason by acquiring Karlsson. Now they’re running out of time to figure it all out.

For the Blackhawks, time is also running out on the regular season schedule, which probably feels like a relief for a team that’ll want to put this season in the rearview mirror as fast as possible. With six games left to be played, there are still plenty of stories to be finished. Alex DeBrincat remains just two shy of the 40-goal mark, a worthy reward for a stellar sophomore season. Pending free agents like Dylan Sikura, David Kampf, Brendan Perlini, Gustav Forsling and Slater Koekkoek can still make cases for future consideration within the organization. And, just maybe, Sikura can find a way to get his first career NHL goal. The rest of the lineup will be auditioning for spots in the 2019-20 Hawks, as the focus of the franchise shifts beyond another playoff-less season.

Projected Lineups

*Lineups will be updated if the Blackhawks take line rushes during their morning skate.


DeBrincat — Toews — Kane

Perlini — Kampf — Strome

Saad — Anisimov — Sikura

Kunitz — Kruger — Kahun

Keith — Gustafsson

Forsling — Seabrook

Koekkoek — Murphy




Meier — Couture — Nyquist

Kane — Hertl — Radil

Sorensen — Thornton — Labanc

Donskoi — Goodrow — M. Karlsson

Ryan — Burns

Vlasic — Heed

Dillon — Braun



How to Watch

When: 9:30 p.m. Thursday

Location: SAP Center, San Jose

TV: NBC Sports Chicago