Behind a two assist and 20 save performance by Vesa Toskala, the Sharks hammered a struggling Blackhawks team, 4-2. With the win, the Sharks ended their three-game winless streak.
for video highlights from Saturday’s game.
San Jose looked to return to their winning ways with an afternoon affair with Chicago at HP Pavilion.
Scott Parker returned to the lineup as Joe Pavelski
missed a second consecutive contest.
The game did not start off as planned for Team Teal as former Blackhawk Mark Bell was given a two minute tripping penalty in the game’s first minute. However, it was San Jose who struck while Chicago was up a man. Patrick Rissmiller did the dirty work behind the net and perfectly centered Marcel Goc out front. The speedy center moved to the left of Nikolai Khabibulin and roofed the puck off the backhand.
Midway through the contest, the guests would respond. Patrick Sharp played the role of Rissmiller and created space behind Toskala. He fed Tuomo Ruutu to the side of the slot and his one-time found a seam between Toskala and the post.
When San Jose looked to respond, Khabibulin showed why the Blackhawks pay him the big bucks. A Bell shot rebounded to a wide-open Ryane Clowe
. The Newfoundland native took his time and lifted his shot, but the Stanley Cup winning netminder lifted his glove to snare the shot. Khabibulin remained hot the rest of the period, stoning three Sharks at point blank range.
With 1:18 left in the second, Curtis Brown put San Jose back on top. A perfect dump-in by Scott Hannan allowed Brown to reach the puck first and his backhander beat Khabibulin under the arm. Vesa Toskala earned an assist, his second of the period, on the play.
Team Teal took the 2-1 lead into the first break.
The game’s pace slowed down in the second as Chicago knew they could not allow the Sharks to keep up the same pace. It was the Chicago offense that was the most aggressive early in the second with Toskala making his biggest stop on Tony Salmelainen.
Chicago broke through for the tying tally behind a great individual effort form Martin Havlat
. The Blackhawks winger beat Sharks defenders to a bouncing puck, then forced Toskala to skate out of the crease. As Havlat tucked the puck under Toskala along the goal line, the puck bounced off Scott Hannan in the crease and went in.
San Jose would not wait long to respond as the Thornton-Marleau-Clowe line quickly made it 3-2. Thornton did his usual dirty work behind the net, holding off a defender. When he found some space, he hit Clowe who uncorked a bomb. The shot was stopped, but Marleau was out front to deposit the rebound.
The Sharks could not convert on a late power play, but would again take a one-goal lead into the intermission.
San Jose nearly surrendered the lead on two separate odd man rushes early in the third (with one coming on the power play), but Toskala made excellent stops on both occasions.
With eight left in the third, San Jose was still clinging to their 3-2 lead, but the Blackhawks were hanging around. That is until Milan Michalek changed the game. Set up by Jonathan Cheechoo, the Czech winger skated in on a breakaway and used a beautiful backhander to go upstairs for the 4-2 lead.
The Hawks pulled their goalie with two minutes remaining, but the Sharks stood tall and clinched the 4-2 victory, ending their three-game skid.
San Jose will be off until Tuesday against Anaheim at HP Pavilion. Limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and www.ticketmaster.com. The 7:30 p.m. contest will be aired on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.
|FINAL ||1 ||2 ||3 ||T |
| ||Chicago ||1 ||1 ||0 ||2 |
| ||San Jose ||2 ||1 ||1 ||4 || |
|CHI: ||RUUTU, T. (09:02 in 1st), HAVLAT, M. (11:14 in 2nd) |
|SJS: ||GOC, M. (SHG, 01:54 in 1st), BROWN, C. (18:42 in 1st), MARLEAU, P. (14:51 in 2nd), MICHALEK, M. (11:54 in 3rd) |