In a match-up between the top two teams in the NHL Western Conference, The Chicago Blackhawks were victorious over the San Jose Sharks by a score of 5-3.
San Jose got off to a scorching-hot start, as they scored two quick goals from Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels. The Sharks held a 2-0 lead very early until Brandon Saad added his first career NHL goal to bring the Blackhawks within one. Less than a minute after Saad’s goal, the Sharks regained their 2 goal advantage on the Hawks with former Hawk, Michal Handzus adding a goal for San Jose. The wacky first period continued as just eight seconds later, Andrew Shaw brought the Hawks back within one goal of the lead! The first period wasn’t over yet, as Marcus Kruger added an unassisted tally to tie the game 3-3, and that’s how it would stay until the buzzer at the end…of the first period!
The second period settled down(offensively anyways) as both teams looked to break the tie. Things got dicey, when Sharks’ forward Andrew Desjardins executed a questionable hit on a defenseless Jamal Mayers. In Mayers’ defense, Hawks defenseman/alternate captain, Duncan Keith jumped Desjardins, earning himself a 5-minute fighting major + a two-minute instigator penalty + two minutes for instigating while wearing a visor + a ten minute game misconduct. Desjardins on the other hand received a 5 minute fighting major + a ten-minute match penalty.
This resulted in extended four-on-four hockey, where the Hawks took advantage. Jonathan Toews robbed the puck from Sharks’ defenseman, Douglas Murray to beautifully set-up Patrick Kane to bury the puck past Sharks goalie, Antti Niemi to give the Hawks a 4-3 lead, which would last through the end of the period.
After two uniquely explosive periods of hockey, the game settled down a bit. There was some increased chirping and after the play conversations between the two teams, but in comparison to the first two periods, the third was quite tame. Nick Leddy was called for holding, giving the Sharks a Power Play, and a golden opportunity to tie the game. The opportunity and the Power Play were short-lived as Sharks’ goaltender, Antti Niemi was called for delay of game, just eleven seconds into the Sharks’ crucial Power Play, resulting in more 4 on 4 hockey, which seemed to be favoring the Blackhawks.
Later in the third period, the Sharks pulled Niemi for an extra-attacker, and the Hawks took advantage. Patrick Kane added his second goal of the night, giving the Hawks a 5-3 lead, and eventually a victory over the Sharks.
Corey Crawford got off to a very rocky start to the game, but overall settled down and made the saves that the Hawks needed him to make, although he has looked much more comfortable in the net this season.
Brandon Saad finally scored his first goal of his NHL career, although it should have come much sooner. He has played great on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa all season, and tonight was no exception.
Jonathan Toews won 17 of 26 faceoffs in the game.
It’s nice to see Bryan Bickell show flashes of a physical side to his game with some big hits. If Bickell were to use his size more often, combined with his excellent wrist-shot, he would be an incredibly unique player, and would help the Hawks tremendously.
The Blackhawks are still the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss, and hold an outstanding record of 8-0-2, good for 18 points on the season.
The Hawks are currently 2-0-2(6 points) on their current 6-game road trip.
Next up for the Blackhawks, is their second meeting of the season with the Phoenix Coyotes, as they look to continue their succesful road trip. Puck drop is set for 8:00 PM Central Time.