Blackhawks win over struggling Sharks 3-2 in OT
The Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks battled it out for a 0-1 game in California at Thanksgiving. Since that game, the Sharks had gone 2-5-0, including being shut out twice on the road (Kings; Blues). In the same stretch, Chicago went 5-1-1.
San Jose came into Sunday night's game as the 3rd game in 4 days, on the heels of Saturday’s 0-1 loss in St. Louis, while Chicago had only played twice in the past six days, with their last game being Thursday night on Long Island.
Given these circumstances, one might guess that Chicago would have looked like the more dominant team, not just to open the game but throughout the 60 minutes.
However, after their usual opening surge, the struggling Sharks were the ones who turned on the fuel, with Jamie McGinn getting San Jose on the board first at 3:35 in the first. It took until 7:53 in the second for Marcus Kruger to tie up the score on the redirect of a Niklas Hjalmarsson blast, and the Sharks took the lead again less than two minutes later on a goal by Justin Braun.
The Sharks brought plenty of pressure throughout the first and second, but Ray Emery held the Blackhawks in it, turning away or otherwise containing 16 out of 17 shots in the first and 15 out of 16 in the second. In that same time frame, Chicago only managed 1 goal out of 13 SOG against San Jose, and just 5 of those in the second period.
Whether it was an intermission pep talk in the locker room before the final period, or simply that San Jose was starting to feel the effect of 3 games in 4 days and 2,000 miles of travel, Chicago turned the tide in the final frame. They limited the Sharks to just 3 SOG while throwing 16 at Niemi, which bore fruit when Andrew Brunette tied the game with the redirect of a Marian Hossa shot with 1:06 left in the game. The Blackhawks carried that momentum into overtime, with Patrick Sharp shoveling in another Marian Hossa feed 4:26 into OT for the GWG.
There’s a saying that good teams win games when they shouldn’t. In tonight’s case, Emery turned in a very good performance to make up for the rest of the team during the first two periods. Whether Emery will get the next start, against the white-hot Minnesota Wild, is to be determined; however, Coach Joel Quenneville is famous for ‘riding the hot hand’ in net, so it’s likely he may get the start. It’s worth noting that Corey Crawford is a career 1.67 GAA and .944 sv% against the Wild; but he has not started since December 5th against Phoenix, and was pulled that game after allowing 3 goals in 21:08.
The Blackhawks will have two days off before facing the league-leading Wild in Minnesota on Wednesday. Six of the eight remaining games this month will be played at home for Chicago.
- Chicago is now 13 for 13 on the penalty kill in the past 4 games, which helps pull their PK up to 77.4% (27th) As they were dead last not too long ago, this shows a positive trend that should continue. They’ve also improved their PP to 18.9% (9th).
- Ray Emery (Chicago) notched his 100th win.
- It was Brent Seabrook’s (Chicago) 500th NHL game.
- Patrick Sharp scored the OT both in Thursday's 3-2 OT win vs. the NY Islanders and last night's OT 3-2 win vs. the Sharks, which made Sharp the first player in Blackhawks history to have the OT GWG in back-to-back games.
- The Blackhawks are now 2nd in the West with 40 points and an 18-8-4 record. They are the second team in the NHL to reach 40 points this season (the Wild was first).