Defense leads way in Sharks' 4-2 win vs. Blackhawks

Curtis Pashelka, The Mercury News on

Published in Hockey

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Patrick Marleau scored in his 800th consecutive NHL game played and goalie Martin Jones made 19 saves as the Sharks beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-2, on Tuesday to snap a season-long five-game losing streak.

Evander Kane scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season shorthanded in the second period and Tomas Hertl added another insurance goal in the third period as the Sharks earned their first win since Oct. 24 when they beat the Montreal Canadiens, 4-2, at Bell Centre.

Jones had to make just eight saves through two periods as he earned his first victory since Oct. 16 when the Sharks beat the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-2. In five starts after that game, Jones had gone 0-4-0 with an .877 save percentage.

The Blackhawks got goals from Brandon Saad and Duncan Keith 68 seconds apart in the third period to cut the Sharks' lead to 3-2 with 1:54 left in the third period. But Timo Meier scored an empty-netter with 1:26 left to help put the game away.

With the win, the Sharks (5-10-1) improved to 1-2-0 on their six-game homestand and moved out of the basement in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of the Los Angeles Kings.

Marleau is just the sixth player in NHL history to play 800 consecutive regular-season games, as his ironman streak began April 9, 2009. His goal Tuesday, at the 1:39 mark of the second period, was his third of the season and the 554th of his career.

With Marleau stationed in front of the net, a shot by Timo Meier glanced off his skate and past Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner for a 1-0 Sharks lead. It was the first time the Sharks had held a lead in any game since Oct. 25, or a stretch of four-plus games, when they held a 1-0 lead over Toronto in the second period. The Maple Leafs scored four straight goals after that to earn a 4-1 win.

What followed were losses to Ottawa, Boston, Winnipeg and Vancouver that dropped the Sharks' record to 4-10-1, a mark that was last in the Western Conference in terms of points percentage.

So the Sharks were all too eager to welcome back Radim Simek, a decisive, no-nonsense defenseman. He fit right into the lineup after he made his NHL debut for the team last December, and was sorely missed after he suffered torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee in a game against the Winnipeg Jets on March 12.


There were other factors in play, but the Sharks' record when Simek was in the lineup for 41 games last season was 29-9-3.

In the first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game, Simek, paired once again with Brent Burns, had 5 minutes and 32 seconds of ice time and led the Sharks with three hits and two blocked shots.

The Blackhawks looked every bit like a team that was playing its third game in four nights, as the Sharks held a 14-3 advantage in shot in the first 20 minutes, and 26-8 lead through two periods.

The Sharks' homestand continues Thursday against the Minnesota Wild.

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