SAN JOSE, Calif.--The San Jose Sharks brought out their big guns for the shootout Saturday night and came away with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton all scored as San Jose snapped its three game losing streak with a win that improved its overall record to 9-5 in the one-on-one competition. Antti Niemi's stop on Chicago forward Patrick Sharp proved the difference.
The Sharks have been offensively challenged with only one goal in their previous three games and this game--as entertaining as it was--featured the same problem.
Neither team could score through the first two periods before Joe Pavelski's short-handed goal in the third gave San Jose a 1-0 lead, only to see a power play goal by BlackhawkS forward Brandon Saad even things up 63 seconds later.
The game featured two of the Western Conference's top teams. Earlier in the day, Sharks coach Todd McLellan talked about the need for his team to get the puck deep in the Chicago zone if it was going to repeat the success it had with a 3-2 shootout win on Jan. 5 rather than the frustration it felt losing 5-1 on Nov. 17.
"Tonight, if their eyes are up and they have the puck on their tape, they make you pay. If they have to turn and show you numbers and retrieve and play the full 200 foot game, you give yourself a chance." McLellan said. "We've tried it both ways."
Neither the Sharks nor the Blackhawks showed up on the scoreboard in a quick-paced first period, though both came close.
Chicago forward Patrick Kane saw his 51-foot wrist shot clank off the post at 10:10 after the Blackhawks played keep-away with the puck for most of his shift. Then a little more than two minutes later, Chicago netminder Corey Crawford only got a piece of a shot by Dan Boyle, then caught a break when the puck bounced off the crossbar.
It was more of the same in the second as both teams traded scoring chances, but couldn't get the puck into the opposing net.
In part, that was because San Jose's penalty kill didn't let the Chicago power play--ranked fourth in the NHL--get too many sniffs on the two times the Sharks were short-handed over the first two periods. But while San Jose worked the puck well when it had they man advantage, it couldn't finish off its redirected shots and deflections.
Both teams finally got on the scoreboard in the third period--with each goal coming from special teams after the same hooking penalty to Brad Stuart.
Pavelski gave the Sharks a short-lived 1-0 lead on a short-handed goal at 6:10 after a neutral zone turnover by Blackhawks forward Patrick Shark. But the game was tied again at 7:13 when Niemi got his glove on a puck fired by Brandon Saad, but he couldn't slow it down enough to keep it out of the net.
--Veteran Chicago forward Michal Handzus was back in San Jose for the first time since being traded to the Blackhawks on April 1. Handzus had struggled with the Sharks, scoring only one goal and one assist in 28 games, but found himself playing an integral role with the Stanley Cup winners.
"It's tough to explain, but sometimes it's about the fit, I guess," said Handzus, who had 11 playoff points for Chicago. "It's nothing against the Sharks. I know I hadn't played my best here. But it was a good fit for me right away in Chicago and I just took off. You get confidence back and I played with really good players, too."
--Tyler Kennedy missed his second game since suffering a lower body injury during San Jose's 3-0 loss in Edmonton on Wednesday.
"Right after they won a draw and dumped it in, I went in and felt I pulled something," Kennedy said, adding it wasn't a long-term thing.
--Jason Demers and Tyler Kennedy were scratched from the lineup. Kennedy is recovering from a lower body injury, but there was no immediate information on the decision to keep Demers out of the game.
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