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Mar 23, 2024 12:06 am

Blackhawks, Sharks clash in matchup of struggling franchises

Bedard

The teams with the NHL’s worst records square off Saturday night when the Chicago Blackhawks finish up a three-game California road trip against the San Jose Sharks.

It’s also a matchup of the team with the NHL’s worst road record in the Blackhawks (5-28-1) against a Sharks team with the fewest home wins (10).

Chicago (19-46-5, 43 points) is last in the Central Division and brings in a two-game losing streak after a 4-0 loss at Anaheim on Thursday, while San Jose (16-46-7, 39 points) is on a six-game losing streak following a 4-1 defeat to visiting Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Chicago won both of the previous two meetings at home — 2-1 in a nine-round shootout on Jan. 16 and 5-2 last Sunday with Connor Bedard and Philipp Kurashev both finishing with a goal and an assist.

San Jose has a .283 winning percentage, which is not far off the league’s worst in the salary cap era of .275 held by the 2019-20 Detroit Red Wings.

The Sharks have been outscored 30-12 during their skid, the longest active losing streak in the NHL. However, coach David Quinn was happy with his team’s effort in the loss to the Lightning on Thursday.

Coming in off an ugly 8-2 loss to Nashville, San Jose outshot Tampa Bay 16-10 over the first two periods that ended with the score tied 1-1. The Lightning’s lone goal by Nicolas Paul came thanks to a weird bounce.

But Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point scored on the power play just 34 seconds into the third period, ex-Shark Anthony Duclair made it 3-1 a little over six minutes later and Point added another goal with 5:58 remaining to blow the game open. League scoring leader Nikita Kucherov assisted on all four Lightning goals.

“I was really proud of our group, after we gave up that fluky goal, that we kept playing and really didn’t get distracted or whatnot,” Quinn said. “We just kept going. Just unfortunate, we got demoralized too easily after we gave them that second goal.”

Sharks defenseman Jacob MacDonald said he’s trying to keep a positive attitude during the team’s skid, which is only halfway to matching an earlier 12-game losing streak this season. San Jose also opened the season 0-10-1.

“I focus on the positives,” MacDonald said. “That’s just my mentality. It’s my personality as well. I don’t dwell on it. It’s just not worth it.”

Chicago fell behind 3-0 in the second period at Anaheim, the second straight game the Blackhawks fell behind by three goals in the second. Lukas Dostal turned away 29 shots for his first career shutout for the Ducks.

“Second period, for whatever reason, I thought (we were) just flat,” Chicago coach Luke Richardson said. “We didn’t have anything early in the period and they had the puck again most of the time. And so again, we let the opponent be harder than us.”

“Just frustrating,” defenseman Jaycob Megna said. “We didn’t execute well enough. … We didn’t hang on to pucks. We didn’t create enough chances. Just not good enough.”

–Field Level Media

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