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Special teams extends Hawks skid
Sharks score three power play goals in 5-3 win
2/10/12 - By Mike Lee -

Powered by a suddenly resurgent power play, the Sharks knocked off the visiting Chicago Blackhawks in a battle of two struggling teams on Friday night. San Jose converted on 3 of 6 man-advantage situations, and turned aside all three Blackhawk power plays to take a 5-3 decision. The Sharks power play has moved from the middle of the NHL rankings to 4th in the league.

Both teams have found it difficult to win since the All Star break, but the Blackhawks entered Friday night's contest having lost 6 straight. That streak was extended by a gritty performance by the 3rd and 4th liners, who broke a 3-3 tie in the 3rd period with a pair of clutch goals.

"We played hard tonight, we had fights, scratched and clawed and had some ugly goals," said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. "We played the way we had to. We gave them too many opportunities on the power play. It always seems like it is one thing or the other, but I think we are getting closer to playing a complete game."

Benn Ferriero and Jamie McGinn bailed out the Sharks who allowed the Blackhawks to comeback from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits. Ferriero put the Sharks up for good 5:40 into the 3rd period after McGinn brawled with his friend Bryan Bickell.

Bickell tied the game at 3-3 at the start of the period, but McGinn took exception to a hit on teammate Marc-Edouard Vlasic and engaged his former Ottawa 67's teammate. The fight seemed to light a fire under the Sharks.

Ferriero responded with his 7th goal of the season, taking a Brad Winchester feed at the top of the crease and beating Corey Crawford by slipping the puck between his pads.

McGinn scored a highlight reel goal with 6 minutes to play after Andrew Shaw was sent off for applying an illegal check to Doulas Murray's head. McGinn took a Ryane Clowe feed just outside the right post, before drawing the pck to his left and lifting a shot over Crawford's right shoulder. The angle appeared too tight to get anything past Crawford, but the roof shot tucked under the crossbar for the comfortable two-goal lead.

The Sharks looked destined to knockout Chicago early by scoring a pair of power play goals in the opening period. Justin Braun put back a big rebound off a Logan Couture blast 2 minutes into the game after Michael Frolik was sent off for 4 minutes after he cut Joe Pavelski with a high stick.

"It's always nice to contribute, especially early in the game and on the power play," said Braun. "We had a lot of emphasis on that in this game and special teams. [I'm] happy to get one on the power play."

San Jose found themselves on another power play 9 minutes later after tempers flared in front of the benches and five players were assess roughing minors. Dan Boyle pumped home a 25-foot shot after missing Wednesday night's game.

All the momentum from the special teams pay dirt was erased by a 2nd period skating clinic by the Blackhawks. Chicago went on a rampage, attacking the Sharks net for a full 20 minutes. The shot counter favored Chicago by a 17-3 advantage in the period.

Rookie Marcus Kruger last scored a goal for Chicago back in December when the Blackhawks knocked off San Jose in a 3-2 overtime game. Kruger got his scoring touch back Friday, depositing two pucks past Sharks netminder Antti Niemi in the 2nd period.

Kruger swept a loose puck past Niemi at 6:55 of the period after Nick Leddy clanked a shot off the left post. The deflection bounced behind Niemi, but the unguarded Blackhawks centerman got a stick between the netminder and the goal to punch home his 4th goal of the season.

He added another goal exactly 3 minutes later on another chance from in tight on Niemi.

Joe Thornton put the Sharks back on top with 4:17 to play in the period. The Sharks captain tried to send a feed to Pavelski in the slot, but Blackhawks defenseman Dylan Olsen redirected the puck into his own net after swinging his stick at the pass.

"Both teams were desperate," said Thornton. "When went up two-nothing. We knew the game wasn't over; they were going to come back and fight. Our penalty kill did a great job killing penalties when we needed it to, but two desperate teams playing good hockey."

Bickell tied things up early in the 3rd period with a snap shot from 15 feet out.

"It is tough times right now," added Blackhawks sniper Marian Hossa. "We cannot just put our heads down. It is not fun times, we just have to go through it and hope we get an ugly win. That should get us winning again."

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Scoring
1 2 3 T
CHI 0 2 1 3
SJ 2 1 2 5
1st period - 1, SJ, Braun 2 (Couture, Burns), 1:58, (pp). 2, SJ, Boyle 5 (Couture, Braun), 11:36, (pp).
2nd period - 3, CHI, Kruger 4 (Leddy, Sharp), 6:55. 4, CHI, Kruger 5 (Seabrook, Sharp), 9:55. 5, SJ, Thornton, 12 (Pavelski), 15:43.
3rd period - 6, CHI, Bickell 5 (Bolland, Lepisto), 2:15. 7, SJ, Ferriero 7 (Winchester, Burns), 5:40. 8, SJ, McGinn 12 (Clowe, Burns), 14:04, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Frolik, CHI (high sticking - double minor), 0:58; Marleau, SJ (goaltender interference), 3:46; O'Donnell, CHI (roughing), 11:09; Keith, CHI (roughing), 11:09; Toews, CHI (roughing), 11:09; Clowe, SJ (roughing), 11:09; Thornton, SJ (roughing), 11:09; Winchester, SJ (cross checking), 14:02; Handzus, SJ (closing hand on puck), 16:24; Mayers, CHI (fighting major), 18:51; Clowe, SJ (fighting major), 18:51.
2nd period - Bickell, CHI (interference), 11:28.
3rd period - Bickell, CHI (fighting major), 5:18; McGinn, SJ (fighting major), 5:18; Shaw, CHI (illegal check to head), 12:36; Toews, CHI (hooking), 17:32.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
CHI - Crawford 27 22
SJ - Niemi 33 30
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
CHI 7 17 9 33
SJ 12 3 12 27
Power Play Conversion
CHI 0 of 3
SJ 3 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Jamie McGinn
Brent Burns
Justin Braun
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Peel, Pochmara. Linesmen: Gibbs, Wheler.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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