Halfway through their annual circus road trip, the Chicago Blackhawks know they have some defensive issues to work out.
The streaking San Jose Sharks are having no such problems.
The Blackhawks hope to avoid a third straight defeat this evening as they visit the Sharks for the first time this season.
Chicago annually goes on a lengthy road trip in late November when the circus takes over the United Center and the Blackhawks began the swing with a 5-1 win at Vancouver a week ago for their fourth straight victory.
However, the 'Hawks have been outscored 14-4 in back-to-back losses since at Calgary and Edmonton, including Saturday's 9-2 setback to the Oilers.
Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland each had a power-play goal, while Ray Emery started in net and allowed seven goals on 27 shots. He was briefly relieved in the first period by Corey Crawford, who gave up two goals on seven shots.
"It's embarrassing to have a game like that," said Emery. "It's personally embarrassing and I want to play better. That's it."
Marian Hossa logged an assist in the defeat to give him two goals and eight assists over a six-game point streak.
With Chicago struggling in its own end, a possible return from blueliner Brent Seabrook would be a boost. Seabrook has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury and said after practice on Tuesday that he feels good. However, he is expected to be a game-time decision along with forward Michael Frolik, who missed his second game in a row on Saturday due to a shoulder issue.
Regardless of whether Seabrook returns or not, head coach Joel Quenneville knows his team needs to quickly move on from Saturday's lopsided loss.
"Hopefully we parked what happened in Edmonton and we learned from it as well," Quenneville said after practice on Tuesday. "There's an approach that is necessary going into [Wednesday's] game and I think the focus after today was getting back to work and back to playing a solid team game."
The Sharks have been solid over the past month, posting an 11-2-1 mark since losing three of four to begin the season. They won their third straight game on Sunday, a 4-1 triumph in Colorado.
Patrick Marleau had the fourth hat trick of his career, with defenseman Marc- Edouard Vlasic getting an assist on each tally. Vlasic also logged a goal and three helpers in a win over Detroit last Thursday and was named the NHL's second star of the week on Monday.
"I got an assist on all three of his goals, but the last one I was just trying to protect it, get it out, and pushed it off the boards and [Marleau] made a great play to spin it around and shoot it into the net," Vlasic said.
Joe Thornton also had three assists versus the Avalanche to give him seven points in his last three games, while Joe Pavelski tallied his team-leading 11th goal. Thomas Greiss made 36 saves in his sixth start of the season.
The Sharks won three of four over the Blackhawks last season, winning both meetings at home. Chicago has three wins and a tie in its last 14 trips to San Jose.