Sharks-Blackhawks Preview

Brent Burns had a career high in goals in 2013-14 to finish second among defensemen.

This season is proving to be more of the same.

Burns attempts to continue his production and keep the San Jose Sharks surging Sunday night against the struggling Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.

Burns’ 22 goals last season were one back of Nashville’s Shea Weber for the most among defensemen. It was just the fourth time he’d reached double digits, eclipsing the 17 he had for Minnesota in 2010-11.

Burns also finished 2013-14 with a career-high 48 points, and he’s on pace to surpass that with 15 in 15 games. He also leads NHL defensemen with six goals, scoring five while adding seven assists on the road.

He scored two of the Sharks’ four third-period goals – including the eventual winner – as they rallied for a 5-3 victory over Dallas on Saturday in the opener of a season-high seven-game road trip.

"We talked about staying the course and staying positive," Burns said of San Jose (8-5-2) trailing 3-1 after two periods. "We all hung in real tough and played real well going down the stretch."

That certainly applies to Logan Couture, who had three assists to continue his own impressive run. The center has three goals and five assists during the Sharks’ 4-1-1 surge that followed a season-high four-game skid.

Couture, though, has been largely ineffective at Chicago, totaling five points in 11 overall visits – including playoffs – while Burns has three in 17. However, both were instrumental to a 3-2 shootout win at the United Center on Jan. 5, when Burns’ third-period goal forced overtime before Couture and Joe Pavelski beat Corey Crawford in the tiebreaker.

San Jose had lost its six previous regular-season road meetings with the Blackhawks.

Chicago, though, has dropped six of nine games, and is facing the potential of losing four straight at home for the first time since Oct. 29-Nov. 10, 2010.

The usually potent Blackhawks (7-6-1) have been held to two goals during the current skid, which continued when they gave up three unanswered goals in a 4:52 span of the second period to fall 3-2 to Washington on Friday. It was also their first game without four-time 30-goal scorer Patrick Sharp, who is out for a month with a right knee injury.

"I thought we played a perfect 35 minutes, then basically shot ourselves in the foot with mental mistakes," coach Joel Quenneville said. "A couple of plays that are totally unacceptable.

"We were doing a lot of things right, had a 2-0 lead and nothing serious and giving up nothing. Then we make a bad decision and it’s in our net. And it’s in our net. And it’s in our net."

Quenneville surely would like to get more out of Patrick Kane, who has two points in six games and none in the last three at home. He was held without a point against the Sharks on Jan. 5 after compiling 16 in his previous 15 home meetings, including playoffs.

Jonathan Toews hasn’t been much better over the last three home games, notching only an assist after collecting six points in the first five. The captain has 27 points in 27 overall games against the Sharks.

Brandon Saad scored in a 2-1 shootout loss at San Jose on Feb. 1, giving him three goals with two assists in six career matchups.