Blackhawks Outlast Sharks at The Tank
The Chicago Blackhawks maintained their impressive season start with a 5-3 nail biter of a win against the rival Sharks at the HP Pavilion at San Jose on Tuesday night.
Chicago rookie Brandon Saad scored his first career goal, Corey Crawford settled in by stopping 30 of 33 shots on net and the Blackhawks improved to 8-0-2 on the year, good for first place in the NHL.
The first period was a whirlwind of an affair with both teams scoring in bunches to set what ended up remaining a gritty and intense battle between two rival teams at the top of the league standings.
San Jose got off to a quick 1-0 start less than three minutes into period one when Joe Pavelski put home a rebound off a point shot that Corey Crawford had little chance of stopping.
About two minutes later, the Sharks built on their early lead when Chicago native Tommy Wingels took a lead pass from Michal Handzus and ripped a shot over the shoulder of Crawford and just inside the far post to make it 2-0 San Jose, easily riling up the home crowd.
Chicago was able to answer almost five minutes later, however, when Brandon Saad rifled a shot from a Brent Seabrook pass and roofed it over Sharks' goaltender Antti Niemi's shoulder to cut San Jose's lead to 2-1.
But just as the Blackhawks thought they were getting themselves back into the game, Michal Handzus took a sharp pass from Tommy Wingels across the slot to the left circle and fired a wrist shot right through Crawford to make it a 3-1 Sharks lead just 39 seconds later.
The Hawks answered even faster, though, and Andrew Shaw made it 3-2 eight seconds later when he corralled a loose puck in front of Niemi and stuffed it home for his second goal of the season.
42 seconds later, Chicago scored another momentum swinging goal as Marcus Kruger snatched a loose puck from Sharks defenseman Justin Braun right on the doorstep of the San Jose net and put it home to tie the game at 3 apiece midway through the first period.
The second period saw fewer goals, but was not any less engaging. About halfway through the second period, Sharks centerman Andrew Desjardins left his feet to make a hit in open ice on Blackhawks forward Jamal Mayers. Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith came to his teammate's aid and immediately challenged Desjardins to a bout, which Desjardins quickly finished with relative ease.
Following the play, Keith received a total of 19 minutes in penalties: five minutes for fighting, two minutes for instigating, two minutes for instigating with a face shield, and a 10 minute game misconduct. Desjardins received 15 minutes of penalties, including five minutes for fighting and a 10 minute game misconduct.
Chicago once again broke the game's “scoring drought” when captain Jonathan Toews stole a puck from Sharks' defenseman Douglas Murray right in front of the San Jose net and sent a quick pass across the slot to Patrick Kane who scored to make it 4-3 in favor of Chicago.
Kane would then seal the win with less than two minutes to play when his empty net goal made it 5-3 to close out the game.
Despite not being able to capitalize on any of their four power play chances, the Blackhawks maintained a perfect penalty kill against the Sharks, killing off all three of their man-advantage opportunities.
The Chicago Blackhawks continue their west-coast road trip when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday, February 7th at 8 pm CT.