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Not sexy, but it's 2 points
5 of 8 points on road trip
10/10/07 - by Mike Lee

It wasn't the dominating performance that you'd expect from a team's that supposedly overmatches their opposition on paper, but it was good enough for a win. The Sharks wrapped up their 4-game season-opening road trip by scoring a late goal against the Chicago Blackhawks en route to a 2-1 win at the United Center. With the win, the Sharks head home with 5of 8 points in hand and a share of the lead in the Pacific Division.

After getting steam-rolled in Colorado on Sunday, the Sharks focused on sustaining offensive pressure on the host Blackhawks for 60 minutes. The approach did little to get the Sharks on the scoreboard, but it left no doubt which way the ice was tilted.

San Jose out-shot Chicago almost 2-to-1 in the contest, including 13-5 in the 1st period. A momentary defensive lapse by the Sharks and a red hot Blackhawks goaltender in Nikolai Khabibulin helped Chicago to a 1-0 lead at the 1st intermission.

Jonathan Toews showed off why he was the 3rd overall pick in 2006, by scoring his first NHL goal on his first shot for Chicago. Toews took a pass from Brent Seabrook at the blueline, then turned defenseman Matt Carle inside-out before roofing a shot past Evgeni Nabokov from 10 feet out. Carle made a meek attempt at slowing down Toews with a hold after getting caught out of position, but the rookie forward brushed off the obstruction on his way to the net.

Credit the Sharks for sticking to the game plan, by keeping up the offensive pressure. The effort would pay dividends, albeit halfway through the game.

The Sharks knotted things up at 1-1 midway through the 2nd period on Milan Michalek's first goal of the season. Michalek took a feed from Craig Rivet as he drove to the net from outside the right postand pumped a shot past Nikolai Khabibulin, while Toews sat in the penalty box for hooking Joe Thornton.

Khabibulin stood tall, even though he was forced to stop another 13 shots in the middle period. San Jose missed on a golden opportunity in the final minute of the period on a Jonathan Cheechoo shot that hopped over the Chicago netminder as it crossed through the Blackhawks crease.

Nabokov in contrast faced a much lighter load, stopping 16 of the 17 shots the Blackhawks threw at him.

Brent Seabrook presented the Sharks with a great chance to take the lead early in the 3rd period, after he was whistled for hooking and high-sticking, but the 4 minute power play went by leaving Chicago unscathed.

The power play would redeem itself as the clock wound down.

Michalek would finally give the Sharks the lead with 3:31 left in regulation on another power play. Tuumu Ruutu was sent off for hooking at 15:27 setting up the big power play. Circling from the back of the Blackhawks net to the front of the crease, Michalek took a feed from Matt Carle and chipped it past Khabibulin.

The Sharks are tied with the Anaheim Ducks for first in the Pacific, with 5 points in the standings, although the Sharks have two games in hand.

Game Notes:

Curtis Brown and Rob Davison cracked the lineup for the first time this season. Davison dropped the mitts with Martin Lapointe in a first period fight after Davison landed a nice hip check that Lapointe took exception to. Lapointe was not called for an instigator penalty, which bewildered the Sharks. Douglas Murray was called for instigating on Sunday in Colorado.

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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 1 1 2
CHI 1 0 0 1
1st period - 1, CHI, Toews 1 (Seabrook, Kane), 13:43.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Michalek 1 (Marleau, Rivet), 10:28, (pp).
3rd period - 3, SJ, Michalek 2 (Carle, Rivet), 16:29, (pp).
 
Penalties
1st period - Adams, CHI (high sticking), 3:12; Davison, SJ (fighting major), 11:53; Lapointe, CHI (fighting major), 11:53; Brown, SJ (slashing), 15:15; McLaren, SJ (hooking), 16:43; Toews, SJ (hooking), 16:43.
2nd period - Clowe, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:06; Toews, CHI (hooking), 9:51; Perreault, CHI (hooking), 13:04.
3rd period - Seabrook, CHI (hooking), 3:12; Seabrook, CHI (high sticking), 3:12; Ruutu, CHI (hooking), 15:27.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 17 16
CHI - Khabibulin3230
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 13 13 6 32
CHI 5 4 8 17
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 6
CHI 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Milan Michalek
Nikolai Khabibulin
Craig Rivet
Attendence
10,122
Officials
Referees: Chris Lee, Don VanMassenhoven Linesmen: Dan Schachte, Andy McElman.

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