Chicago Blackhawks vs. San Jose Sharks Pick & Prediction JANUARY 16th 2024

The Chicago Blackhawks have lost four of five since All-Star rookie Connor Bedard sustained a fractured jaw.

That each defeat came by no more than two goals against foes in or close to playoff position leaves Chicago feeling optimistic entering a Tuesday visit from the struggling San Jose Sharks.

“The last handful of games have been really impressive,” Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said. “Not just the effort, but the ability to keep chances low on the other side and play a team game (has) been great. Obviously, you want to win a few more. You want that positive reinforcement of what they’re doing.”

Goaltender Petr Mrazek has been especially sharp for Chicago, stopping 66 of the 72 shots he has faced over the past three games.

Still, his teammates realize they have to provide more support or the losses will keep mounting. The Blackhawks have scored more than two goals just twice over the past 10 games.

“I don’t think we’ve sat down and said, ‘Hey, now that Connor’s out, we’ve got to do this,” Chicago winger MacKenzie Entwistle said. “But everyone knows what he brings to the team, and everyone has to step up a little bit more, bring their game up. And I think we have. We’ve done a good job. Obviously, we haven’t gotten any points (in the past three games), but we definitely deserve some.”

The Sharks have lost 14 of their past 15 games, falling by at least three goals nine times over that span.

San Jose was blanked for the seventh time this season on Monday afternoon, as Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen recorded a 28-save shutout to defeat the Sharks 3-0.

San Jose counterpart Kaapo Kahkonen matched Luukkonen for a time, keeping the Sabres off the scoreboard until Casey Mittelstadt opened the scoring at 11:34 of the second period. The Sharks fell behind 2-0 just over three minutes later, allowing a power-play goal to Alex Tuch.

A team in dire need of some scoring punch and veteran leadership will have to wait a bit longer for both. Sharks coach David Quinn confirmed Monday that Logan Couture, who still is recovering from a lower-body injury he sustained during training camp, won’t make his season debut in Chicago, the finale of the club’s five-game road trip.

“It’s been tough for him all year,” Quinn said. “He’s really anxious to get going here. He’s eager for sure. But as we’ve all said, we want it to be when he does come back, there’s no looking back.”

Quinn continues to tinker with lineup combinations as the Sharks search for offense. Calen Addison (no goals, one assist over his last 12 games) was a healthy scratch in Buffalo.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of in and out here moving forward because we know a lot of these guys are in the same boat,” Quinn said. “A lot of guys do a good job when they’re in there and sometimes there’s a little drop-off in their play, and we’re fortunate to have the luxury to move guys in and out.”

–Field Level Media

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