for this game

Blackhawks host Sharks in battle of conference elite

Jan 15, 2012 - 3:43 PM (Sports Network) - The Chicago Blackhawks open up a three-game homestand this evening looking to rebound from a disappointing loss yesterday afternoon in a matchup with the streaking San Jose Sharks.

The Blackhawks visited a Detroit Red Wings club on Saturday that was looking to match the longest winning streak in team history and gave the division rival everything it could handle before ultimately suffering a 3-2 setback in overtime.

Rookie Andrew Shaw scored and Jonathan Toews forced overtime on a goal with 57.7 seconds left. However, Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi beat Corey Crawford with 39 ticks left in overtime.

Crawford ended with 40 saves and kept his club in the game as Chicago was outshot 21-4 in the first period and trailed 2-0.

"[The Red Wings] came out really strong but I thought we settled down," Crawford said. "We got some chances and [Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard] made some big saves."

With the point, the Blackhawks fell into a tie with the Blues for first place in the Central Division with 58 points, one up on Detroit. They'll look to widen the gap this evening and improve on a 16-5-4 home record.

The Sharks, though, come in having logged points in eight straight games. They are 6-0-2 over that span and are coming off yesterday's 2-1 victory over the Blue Jackets.

Patrick Marleau scored the game-winner with just under three minutes to play and Ryan Clowe also tallied, but the big news that come from the game was a hit Andrew Desjardins took to the head from the shoulder of Columbus' Dana Byers. Desjardins had to be helped to the locker room and teammate Brad Winchester was hit with an instigator penalty, 10-minute misconduct and fighting major for taking on Byers.

"I think it's appropriate at that time to take care of a teammate," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of Winchester stepping in to battle Byers. "He's done that for our team all year."

Thomas Greiss stopped 25-of-26 shots to post his second straight victory. McLellan is likely to go back to No. 1 goaltender Antti Niemi, a former Blackhawk who backstopped Chicago to the 2010 Stanley Cup.

San Jose is three points up on Los Angeles for first place in the Pacific Division and is 4-0-3 in its past seven on the road. The Sharks conclude a four-game swing this evening.

The Sharks and Blackhawks have split a pair of encounters already this season, with each team winning once on home ice. San Jose has won four of the last six meetings overall and has dropped four of six in Chicago. That includes a 3-2 overtime decision on Dec. 11 in which injured 'Hawks forward Patrick Sharp netted the game-winner.