Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3 Sunday in a much-needed road win at the United Center. After a shaky first few minutes, the Sharks took over with goals from Melker Karlsson, Marcus Sorensen, Evander Kane, Barclay Goodrow, Kevin Labanc, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl. In all, 13 Sharks earned points in the game, six of them earning more than one. For Chicago, goals came from Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini.
Both teams used both of their goalies, with San Jose’s Martin Jones being replaced after giving up three goals on four shots in the first period, and Chicago’s Corey Crawford leaving the game after an injury in the first period. Sharks’ Aaron Dell did not give up a goal on 16 shots, while Blackhawks’ Cam Ward made 30 saves on 35 shots. San Jose’s special teams were perfect with four penalty kills and two goals on two power plays.
After the game, Sharks forward Logan Couture commented on how the team has improved lately:
We’re playing the right way now. There’s less cheating, less chances being taken in bad areas of the ice. Defensively I think we’ve played some very strong hockey, and when we do that, it may be hard to realize but it always leads to offense. You’re always going to score more goals when you’re defending well. It’s just the way this game works, you don’t think it when you’re on the ice, but that’s the way it works.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer talked about his fourth line of Melker Karlsson, Barclay Goodrow and Lukas Radil after the game: “Melker consistently gives me the same game. You know, his production maybe isn’t there all the time but I think you know what you’re getting from him every time he puts his uniform on and he’s going to do whatever he can to help you win a game. You know, that fourth line has some chemistry and they’re making a difference in games. That’s the first time we’ve had that in a while so it feels good.”
The Blackhawks scored first and last in a goal-laden first period. In the first four minutes, Chicago scored twice. First, Alex DeBrincat got his 14th of the season at 2:34. The Sharks were on a change as Erik Gustafsson carried the puck into the neutral zone. He made a pass to the Sharks blue line where DeBrincat waited and DeBrincat took the shot from just over that blue line. The puck trickled through Martin Jones. Less than one minute later, Dylan Strome defelcted a shot from Connor Murphy that came from above the faceoff circle. Assists went to Murphy and Patrick Kane.
The Sharks got one back, courtesy of Melker Karlsson at 9:58. Lukas Radil and Barclay Goodrow caused a turnover in the neutral zone, allowing Brent Burns to take the puck and send it away from the Sharks zone to Radil near the Chicago blue line. Radil made a quick cross-ice pass to Karlsson. Karlsson took the shot from inside the faceoff circle and beat Corey Crawford over the pad. It was Karlsson’s third of the season, with assists to Radil and Burns.
The Sharks tied it up with their next shot less than a minute later. Joe Thornton stole the puck in the neutral zone and gave it back to Justin Braun. Braun moved the puck quickly to Kevin Labanc, who sent it cross-ice to Thornton. Thornton found Marcus Sorensen in front of the net. Sorensen used a backhand to sneak the puck under Crawford fr his sixth of the season. Assists went to Thornton and Labanc.
Chicago retook the lead at 12:54 of the period. Brendan Perlini scored off of an ugly play that started with a breakaway by Dylan Sikura. Sikura got tangled up with Justin Braun and fell on his way to the net, but he continued to drive the puck forward. Meanwhile, Perlini won a race against Marc-Edouard Vlasic and tapped the loose puck around Jones’ skate. Assists went to Sikura and Brent Seabrook.
The Sharks switched goalies at this point, putting Aaron Dell in net.
With 1:30 left in the period, Corey Crawford was bowled over by Dylan Strome after Strome tried to slip between Logan Couture and Evander Kane as they converged on the net. Kane was called for goaltender interference. Strome was called for slashing Couture. Crawford left the game and Cam Ward came in. A tripping penalty 44 seconds later on Timo Meier turned the 4-on-4 into a 4-on-3, which carried over into the second period, but none of the penalties altered the score.
The Sharks tied it back up 4:21 into the second period with a power play goal from Evander Kane. Chicago was short-handed for playing with a broken stick, attributed to David Kampf. Kevin Labanc took a stick to the eye early in the power play. It was not observed by officials but Labanc had to leave for repairs.
With under 30 seconds left in the power play, Brent Burns took a shot from above the faceoff circle. The shot came off of Ward’s pads and went right up the middle to where Kane was waiting to swat it back in. It was Kane’s 10th of the season, with assists to Burns and Erik Karlsson.
Barclay Goodrow gave the Sharks their first lead of the game at 7:36 of the period. After a great shift from the Sharks’ fourth line, Justin Braun took a shot from the blue line that went off of Goodrow who was screening Cam Ward. It was Goodrow’s fifth of the season, with assists to Braun and Melker Karlsson.
Logan Couture stretched the Sharks’ lead out to two with his 11th of the season at 16:16. After a nice keep-in by Joe Pavelski up on the blue line, Evander Kane kept the puck away from two Blackhawks below the goal line before getting the puck up to Brenden Dillon on the blue line. Dillon took the shot and Couture deflected it over Ward’s shoulder. Assists went to Dillon and Kane.
The Sharks scored a second power play goal at 13:03 of the third period, with Chicago’s Patrick Kane in the box for tripping. Tomas Hertl kept the puck in at the corner, then moved it along the blue line to Burns. Burns juggled it a bit, just keeping it on the right side of the line. Burns then moved down the slot, threatening a shot, before passing it to Kevin Labanc. Labanc caught the pass just above the hash marks and beat Ward high on the short side. It was Labanc’s fourth of the season, with assists to Burns and Hertl.
Tomas Hertl got on the board with the Sharks’ seventh of the game at 18:27. The Blackhawks were pushing hard in the last couple of minutes, but Timo Meier broke the puck out and took it down behind the Chicago net. Meier put the puck in front of the net, where it came out to Erik Karlsson for a shot. That one came back out for Meier to shoot, but he broke his stick. It went back below the goal line to Logan Couture, who found Hertl coming in for his shot. Couture got the only assist on that one.
The Sharks next play on Tuesday in Minnesota against the Wild at 5:00 PM PT.