Blackhawks, Sharks square off hoping to build off recent wins

( - The Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks may not be at the very top of the NHL standings, but they recently showed they can run with the league's elite.

The Blackhawks and Sharks both aim to build off recent victories on Saturday night when they clash in San Jose.

Chicago and San Jose are coming off wins over the Anaheim Ducks, who lead the NHL in points with 70. The Sharks topped their division rivals 6-3 on Thursday, while the Blackhawks handed the Ducks a 4-1 setback last night.

San Jose got 25 saves from Antti Niemi and goals from six different skaters in picking up the home win. Joe Pavelski had a power-play goal and Brenden Dillon scored shorthanded.

Patrick Marleau, Barclay Goodrow and James Sheppard each tallied a goal and an assist as the Sharks moved to 3-1-1 on a seven-game homestand.

"Special teams got us going and it was good to see," Pavelski said after scoring for a third game in a row.

The Sharks are second in the Pacific Division with 58 points, one ahead of the Vancouver Canucks and 12 back of the Ducks. San Jose didn't lose ground in the race for first place thanks to Chicago's victory last night.

Patrick Kane scored twice and had an assist on Friday versus the Ducks, while Patrick Sharp assisted on all four goals. Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith lit the lamp as well, while Corey Crawford finished with 21 saves.

The Blackhawks, who were up 3-0 entering the third, blew three one-goal leads in Wednesday's 4-3 loss at Los Angeles, and perhaps thoughts of that game entered their minds when Anaheim finally scored with 9:54 remaining.

But Kane put Chicago back up by three with 6:35 left as Chicago won for the third time in four games.

"I thought that fourth goal was a big goal for us," said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville.

The Blackhawks, who play the fourth of a seven-game road trip tonight, have a four-point edge over the Winnipeg Jets for third place in the Central Division and are two points behind St. Louis in the division standings.

The 'Hawks won the first of three meetings with the Sharks this season 5-2 at Chicago on Nov. 9. Toews had a goal and an assist and Crawford made 32 saves.

Backup Antti Raanta is expected to start tonight for Chicago and face San Jose for the first time. He is a solid 7-3-0 on the campaign with a 1.87 goals against average, .939 save percentage and two shutouts in 11 games (10 starts) overall.

Pavelski had both of the Sharks' goals versus the Blackhawks, Joe Thornton had two assists and Niemi yielded all four goals on 36 shots.

Niemi fell to 6-7-1 versus Chicago with a 2.94 GAA and.910 save percentage in 14 games.