San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson is enjoying a red-hot stretch while the Chicago Blackhawks are mired in a pronounced ice-cold spell.
Karlsson will look to extend his career-high point streak to a franchise-record 13 games on Sunday when the struggling Sharks visit the beleaguered Blackhawks.
The two-time Norris Trophy recipient notched an assist in San Jose’s 5-2 setback to the Dallas Stars on Saturday. He has two goals and 17 assists during his streak, which is tied for the franchise record shared by Rob Gaudreau (1992-93) and Jonathan Cheechoo (2005-06).
Karlsson collected a goal and an assist in San Jose’s 5-2 loss to Chicago on Oct. 15.
While Karlsson is hot, the Sharks are not, having lost three straight (0-2-1) and six of their last seven games (1-4-2). San Jose kept the pressure on Dallas in the third period before letting it slip away.
“Especially in third period, I feel like we’re playing well and do stupid mistakes and they score goals. That’s why they won the game,” Oskar Lindblom told San Jose Hockey Now.
On Saturday, they surrendered two power-play goals, allowed a short-handed tally and went 0-for-4 on the power play.
Not surprisingly, San Jose coach David Quinn wasn’t amused. He labeled his team’s performance with the man advantage as “casual.”
While the Sharks are swimming upstream, the Blackhawks can’t seem to find their footing no matter how hard they try. Chicago has dropped three in a row and 25 of its last 29 contests (4-21-4) entering the opener of a season-high seven-game homestand.
“It was probably one of our worst performances of the year,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said after Saturday afternoon’s 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. “Just disconnected. “We’ve had a couple of those this year, not many.”
Chicago has mustered just 16 goals in its last 12 games.
Speedy Andreas Athanasiou opened the scoring on Saturday afternoon with his eighth goal of the season and second in his last four games.
“That’s all you can do is go out there and work as a line and do what you can on the back end and try to produce on the other end,” Athanasiou said. “So, that’s kind of what we look forward to going into the game and just going out there and working really.”
Athanasiou’s linemates, Sam Lafferty and Jason Dickinson, fared well in Chicago’s first encounter with San Jose. Lafferty collected two goals and an assist and Dickinson had one and two, respectively.
San Jose may turn to Kaapo Kahkonen in net on Sunday, and the 26-year-old hopes the flip of the calendar will also change his fortunes. He posted an 0-2-1 record with a 4.94 goals-against average and .835 save percentage in December.
Kahkonen yielded all five goals on 25 shots in the previous encounter against Chicago in October.
Petr Mrazek likely will get the nod for the Blackhawks. He has permitted 17 goals during his current four-game losing skid, although he turned aside 24 of 26 shots in the previous meeting with the Sharks.
–Field Level Media