A look at the NHL Western Conference final, which begins Sunday (with regular season and playoff records):
SAN JOSE: Sharks' only other appearance in Western Conference finals was six-game loss to Calgary in 2004. ... Got past Detroit in second round with four one-goal victories. ... Joe Pavelski, who leads Sharks with nine goals and 15 points in playoffs, had team-high three goals in season series with Blackhawks. He tied Dany Heatley for club lead with five points against Chicago. ... Joe Thornton took big step toward shedding label of poor post-season performer by leading San Jose with career-best eight points in series—including three goals. He is on a six-game point streak and has scored a goal in three of previous four games. ... G Evgeni Nabokov played in all four regular-season games against Chicago, allowing 14 goals and posting 3.78 goals-against average. ... Sharks 40-year-old defenceman Rob Blake has 26 goals and 73 points in 142 career NHL playoff games. He has a goal and assist in these playoffs. ... GM Doug Wilson played 14 seasons with Blackhawks. He is Chicago's highest-scoring defenceman—fifth overall—and fifth in games played with the club. After moving to San Jose, Wilson became Sharks' first captain. ... No Sharks have matched up against any Blackhawks players in playoffs.
CHICAGO: Blackhawks haven't been to Stanley Cup finals since being swept by Pittsburgh in 1992. They have gotten that far only three times since the NHL expanded in 1967, and haven't won the title since 1961. ... Captain Jonathan Toews has nine-game point streak, posting six goals and 13 assists in the run. Has NHL-best 20 playoff points. ... Blackhawks outscored Sharks 17-11 in regular-season series. D Dustin Keith led with seven points, all coming on assists. Troy Brouwer had three goals and five points—including goal and assist in overtime games. ... No Blackhawks have matched up against any Sharks players in the playoffs. Starting goalie Antti Niemi has never faced the Sharks in any game. Cristobal Huet had 2.73 GAA against Sharks in the four regular-season games. He has played only one period in the post-season. ... D Brian Campbell, who recently returned from injury, is in the conference finals for fourth time in five seasons. He briefly played for the Sharks after being acquired at trade deadline in 2008. ... Forward Marian Hossa is in conference finals for third straight year, all with different teams. Hossa reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2008 with Pittsburgh and 2009 with Detroit, losing both times. ... Blackhawks are 5-1 on the road in playoffs, with 26-14 scoring edge.
OUTLOOK: Sharks finally swim away from disappointment to reach finals for the first time. San Jose in 6.
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