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.

His former team is mired in a 0-1-2 stretch after Sunday's 4-3 overtime loss at Washington.

"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."

With Phoenix and Los Angeles winning later Sunday, the Blackhawks dropped to a tie of sixth with Dallas. But Chicago is just three points clear of the playoff dividing line.

Chicago captain Toews scored the tying goal late in regulation Sunday to give him 19 points in his last 12 games.

Marian Hossa has 13 points in his last 10 games.

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

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.

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.

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

As a result, Los Angeles is just three points behind in the Pacific Division race.

"We're at the point of the season now where a point isn't good enough," defenceman 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.