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James Reimer is brilliant as Sharks start road trip on positive note

Curtis Pashelka, The Mercury News on

Published in Hockey

CHICAGO – Once again, the Sharks didn’t provide James Reimer much in the way of offensive support. Once again, it didn’t matter.

Timo Meier scored a second-period goal and Reimer made it hold up, finishing with 29 saves for his first shutout of the season as the Sharks beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 at the United Center on Sunday.

Reimer had 20 saves in the first two periods and held off the Blackhawks the rest of the way the Sharks opened their five-game road trip on a positive note.

Meier scored an empty-net goal with 1:31 left in the first period and now has a team-high nine goals this season. The Sharks have scored two goals or less in eight of Reimer’s starts this season.

The Sharks opened the scoring at the 13:39 mark of the second period.

Brent Burns took control of the puck just inside the blue line and sent it to Logan Couture, who redirected it through his legs to Rudolfs Balcers near the slot. Balcers then fired a shot that glanced off Meier’s stick and past Marc-Andre Fleury with a 1-0 Sharks lead.

Meier now has points in five of eight games since he and six other Sharks players returned from the NHL’s COVID Protocol on Nov. 12.

The Sharks placed Evander Kane on waivers Sunday. The other 31 NHL teams now have until 11 a.m. (PT) on Monday to claim Kane and add him to their roster. If Kane clears waivers, which he likely will, he will be assigned the Barracuda of the AHL.

 

Kane said in a statement he will report to the Barracuda if he clears, as his 21-game suspension for violating the NHL/NHLPA’s COVID protocol ends Monday.

Reimer was making his sixth start in the last seven Sharks games. Before Sunday, he ranked 10th in save percentage (.927) and goals-against-average (2.31) among NHL goaltenders who had played at least 10 games. The Sharks earned 13 points in Reimer’s 11 starts this season.

Reimer was a busy man in the first period.

The Blackhawks created five high danger scoring chances in the first period, according to Natural Stat Trick, as Reimer robbed Jujhar Khaira and Jonathan Toews, among others, on separate opportunities. The Sharks were outshot 7-0 over the final 10 minutes of the first period, as Fleury had to make just four saves in the opening 20 minutes.

Fleury has been the backbone of the Blackhawks turnaround under interim coach Derek King. Since King replaced the fired Jeremy Colliton on Nov. 6, Fleury was 4-1-0 with a .955 save percentage in five games before Sunday, as Chicago was 6-2-0 overall since the change.

Fleury entered Sunday with a 16-4-4 in 24 career games against the Sharks. That included a .942 save percentage and a 1.81 goals against average.

Sunday’s game marked the return of forward Jonathan Dahlen to the lineup after he was injured Nov. 20 against the Washington Capitals.

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