The Chicago Blackhawks have won four of their last five games, but they'll have to continue that run of good play without one of their key players as Marian Hossa will miss their contest against the San Jose Sharks.
The Blackhawks had to come from behind to continue that run on Saturday in Buffalo, but that’s exactly what they did. Patrick Kane scored his 20th goal of the season to tie the game late in regulation, and then he added the winning tally in the shootout for good measure as the Hawks picked up both points.
Hossa played the entire game for the Hawks, and he also played two shifts for the team in the overtime period, so it's unclear why he will miss Sunday's game.
As they come into play on Sunday, they are taking on a Sharks team that is currently in second place in the Pacific Division. They are a mere one game above the .500 mark, with a 16-15-1 record so far on the season, but they are in the top half of the league in both offense and the power play, and they’re a top-10 team in penalty killing as well, killing off 83 percent of opponents’ power plays.
They’ll also be welcoming back a familiar face on Sunday night, as Ben Smith plays after dealing with a concussion issue recently. Smith was traded by the Blackhawks to the Sharks last season in a swap that sent Andrew Desjardins. Before Smith left, he won a Stanley Cup in 2013 with the team and had been one of their best late-round draft picks of recent vintage.
To counter the Sharks, Joel Quenneville has opted to give Corey Crawford the start, despite the fact that the goaltender started in Saturday’s win over the Sabres. Crawford has been lights out in recent weeks, giving up just six goals in his last seven starts and racking up three shutouts over that stretch.
The Blackhawks will also have Brandon Mashinter back in the lineup after making him a healthy scratch recently, and his insertion into the lineup witll move Andrew Shaw onto the top line in Hossa's place.