LIVE: Sharp's 4 assists have Hawks in front 6-3

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LIVE: Sharp's 4 assists have Hawks in front 6-3

Monday, March 14, 2011
Posted: 10:20 a.m.
Associated Press
Antti Niemi has been a big reason why the San Jose Sharks have won all three meetings with the Chicago Blackhawks this season.

Niemi hopes to torment his former team once again Monday night when the Sharks look for a fifth straight road win while the Blackhawks try to avoid their first four-game skid in two seasons.

A hero in leading Chicago (37-24-8) to the Stanley Cup a year ago, Niemi has gone 17-3-3 with a 1.95 goals-against average while starting the Sharks' last 24 games. The GAA is the best of any goalie with at least 16 starts in that span.

Niemi is 3-0-0 with a 1.96 GAA in three starts against the Blackhawks. He made 26 saves in his return to the United Center in a 5-3 victory Dec. 30 in the last meeting between these teams.

The goalie has dropped shootouts in the last two games for San Jose (39-22-8), which fell 3-2 to the Rangers on Saturday. The Sharks remain ahead of the pack in the tightly bunched Pacific Division as they begin a two-game trip that ends Tuesday in Dallas.

"We're gonna have a couple tough games, Chicago and Dallas," coach Todd McLellan said. "We leave this one behind and let's get going forward."

Eight of the Sharks' last nine games have been decided by one goal. They also lost 5-4 to Vancouver on Thursday.

"We're at the point of the season now where a point isn't good enough," defenseman Dan Boyle said Saturday. "We had our chances, for sure. You never know if that point could cost us in the end. Hopefully it doesn't."

Boyle had two assists against the Rangers as he returned after missing six games with an upper-body injury.

San Jose winger Ben Eager will make his first return to the United Center since he was traded by Chicago to Atlanta in the offseason. Eager, who spent his previous two-plus seasons with the Blackhawks, was acquired by the Sharks on Jan. 18.

His former team is mired in a 0-1-2 stretch after Sunday's 4-3 overtime loss at Washington. The Blackhawks, who last lost four straight during a five-game skid March 13-20, 2009, were outshot 42-30.

"We'll take the point," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We weren't very good today. We were very generous in all the goals that we gave them and could've done a better job defending in those situations."

Chicago has won its last four at home, where Jonathan Toews has amassed eight points during a five-game run. Toews scored the tying goal late in regulation Sunday to give him 19 points in his last 12 games.

The Sharks have held Toews without a point in two games this season after the center amassed six in last year's sweep in the Western Conference finals.

Marian Hossa has 13 points in his last 10 games, but just one in two against San Jose this season.

The Blackhawks have outshot the Sharks twice in the first period of their three meetings, finishing even the other time. San Jose has been outshot in the opening period in its last four games.

"It says we have to start better, that's the negative, I guess," McLellan said. "But the will and the drive and the desire is there."

Duncan Keith won't play for Team Canada in World Cup of Hockey

Duncan Keith won't play for Team Canada in World Cup of Hockey

Duncan Keith will not be part of the Blackhawks’ World Cup of Hockey contingent after all.

Keith will focus on improving his health rather than play for Team Canada in the tournament, which takes place next month in Toronto. The Blackhawks released a statement regarding Keith on Wednesday afternoon.

"As Duncan continues offseason rehabilitation on the right knee injury that he sustained last season, we understand his decision not to participate in next month’s World Cup of Hockey," team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in the statement. "We believe it is in his best interests to focus on getting stronger and not risk further injury."

Keith had surgery on that knee last October and was sidelined about one month.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester will take Keith’s place.

Report: Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen a 'major candidate' for Avalanche coaching job

Report: Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen a 'major candidate' for Avalanche coaching job

The Colorado Avalanche are looking for a new head coach, and Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen is reportedly a "major candidate" to land the job, according to Mike Chambers and Terry Frei of The Denver Post.

Dineen, 52, has spent the last two seasons as Joel Quenneville's right-hand man, and helped guide the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup victory in 2015.

He previously served as the head coach for the Florida Panthers, where he went 56-62-28 in two and a half seasons with the team.

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Dineen is familiar with the Colorado area as well, playing collegiate hockey at the University of Denver from 1981-83. He scored 26 goals and 23 assists in 67 games across two seasons with the Pioneers, and was named captain as a sophomore.

Because he's under contract with the Blackhawks for the 2016-17 season, the Avalanche would have to seek permission to interview Dineen, and it's possible it already happened.

The Avalanche are looking to replace Patrick Roy after he resigned on Aug. 11 due to philosophical differences with management.

Roy was 130-92-24 in three years with the Avalanche, guiding his former club to a Central Division title in his first season but missing out on the playoffs the past two years.

Patrick Sharp, Paul Konerko take photo together at Pearl Jam concert at Wrigley Field

Patrick Sharp, Paul Konerko take photo together at Pearl Jam concert at Wrigley Field

Patrick Sharp is back in Chicago, and spent Saturday evening at Wrigley Field taking in the Pearl Jam concert, one of his favorite bands.

The former Blackhawks forward happened to bump into another fan-favorite athlete Chicago is well familiar with: Paul Konerko of the White Sox.

Together, the two of them have helped bring four championships to the city.

Sharp couldn't resist tweeting the photo Saturday night to document the moment: