The San Jose Sharks opened up their three-game road trip in Chicago on an emotional night in the Windy City as the Blackhawks honored Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull before the game. San Jose however managed to not let the terrific home atmosphere affect their game and they finished off the Blackhawks with a 3-2 victory.
With the win, the Sharks tied their franchise record with an eighth win in a row and pulled within one point of first place Dallas, while still possessing two games in hand. Jonathan Cheechoo, Kyle McLaren and Patrick Marleau
each scored in the victory and Evgeni Nabokov added yet another win to his league-leading total.
Emotions from the opening faceoff were high and both clubs parlayed that into goals in the game’s opening four minutes.
Chicago’s tally came courtesy of a power play that was almost killed off by the Sharks special teams units, but Brent Seabrook dropped down to push in a rebound with 18 seconds left in the advantage.
San Jose responded within the next minute. San Jose’s big center Joe Thornton
set up behind the net and waited for an opening. Then he spotted Jonathan Cheechoo with a small sliver of space and the right wing took the pass and banged it home.
Team Teal would make it 2-1 with seven minutes left in the first. Once again Thornton set up behind the net and on this occasion he waited for Kyle McLaren to drop down from his point. When McLaren took the puck in the high slot, he wound up and cranked the puck across the line.
McLaren was not on the ice just to score as he later leveled Ben Eager with a big open ice hip check. The hit caused a partial shoulder separation in Eager.
As the first period wound down, Chicago pulled even. Duncan Keith let go a point shot that Nabokov could not see due to a Jonathan Towes screen and the rookie deflected it in to end the first period with things tied 2-2.
The second started off a bit more conservative offensively, with no goals in the opening eight minutes. Cheechoo had a prime chance at his second during some four-on-four time when he found himself alone near the faceoff circle, but the save was made by Lalime.
San Jose would eventually find a go-ahead goal in the second when Patrick Marleau
, posting his seventh point in six games, snuck behind the defense and buried his shot on Lalime.
The middle period ended with San Jose up 3-2.
The third stanza was the exact opposite of the first and there were very few offensive opportunities, with no goals as time began winding down on Chicago.
Then with 31 second remaining, and Lalime pulled for the extra attacker, it appeared Chicago had pulled even late. However, Rene Bourque was caught punching the puck in the net with his glove and the refs correctly waived off the tally, preserving the Sharks 3-2 victory.
During the pregame ceremony, Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson, who was a former teammate of Mikita, was on the ice in a Blackhawks jersey to help celebrate his old club’s past. Former Blackhawk Jeremy Roenick took part in the ceremonial faceoff and was in the Sharks starting forward trio with Thornton and Michalek.
The Sharks will visit Minnesota Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. PST and the game will be available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.