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Sharks vs. Blackhawks Preview: Back from the break

San Jose hosts Chicago in return from All-Star break

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Chicago Blackhawks David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The last meeting between these teams didn’t go as planned. San Jose lost 4-1, leading to a 1-1 tie in the season series. The teams battle for the victory in the series at SAP Center tonight with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT on CSN-California.

Chicago continues to ride incredible goaltending from both Corey Crawford and backup Scott Darling to the tune of an even-strength save percentage of .9346. Miraculously that’s not the best in the NHL (Washington leads with a .9422) but it has helped Chicago to a second in the Central.

Neither team has blown anyone away on special teams, but Chicago in particular has poor percentages and underlying numbers while on the man advantage. That’s something to keep an eye on as San Jose looks to jumpstart its power play. The Sharks scored one power-play goal and one shorthanded goal in their first meeting and went 0-2 on the man-advantage in their second encounter.

Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier rejoined the team after spending the All-Star break with the San Jose Barracuda. Tim Heed stayed in the AHL. Joonas Donskoi is considered day to day but is unlikely to play against Chicago, while Micheal Haley should be good to go, so expect him to get into the lineup. If that’s the case, I expect Ryan Carpenter will center the fourth line with Haley and Melker Karlsson while Tomas Hertl sticks on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

Martin Jones will almost certainly get the start in goal. San Jose plays two of its next three contests in San Jose with a quick road trip to Vancouver on Thursday to take on the Canucks for the first time this season.