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Comedy of errors cost SJ
Blackhawks take battle of league's best
2/5/13 - By Mike Lee -

Tuesday night's battle royale between the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks turned into a comedy of errors the left more questions than answers that may be answered later this month. Chicago took advantage of miscues by the Sharks and on-ice officials and left HP Pavilion with a 5-3 victory and the best record in the NHL. Chicago overcame a 3-1 Sharks lead, fueled by a pair of key turnovers and a controversial ejection by referees Tom Kowal and Francis Charron.

Things looked as if they would favor San Jose via a blowout early in the contest, after the Sharks jumped on Corey and goaltender Corey Crawford. Joe Pavelski scored 2:54 into the game, to stake San Jose to the early 1-0 lead. The Sharks were buzzing in the Blackhawks zone, when Marc-Edouard Vlasic fired a shot from the high slot. The puck flipped up into the air after Ryane Clowe deflected Vlasic's shot. Pavelski swopped in on the right side and batted the puck out of the air and into the Chicago goal for his 5th goal of the season.

Tommy Wingels made it 2-0 Sharks two minutes later after racing up the left wing and snapping a shot past Crawford form the left dot. It was the first goal scored by the Sharks third line all season. Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville called a timeout to wake his team up, and the move turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.

Chicago would go on a goal scoring binge, bagging three goals in an 89 second stretch. San Jose extended its hospitality to rookie Brandon Saad at 10:08 by allowing him to score his first NHL goal on a one-timer from the right side. Saad took a feed from Brent Seabrook from the point, and pumped a shot past Antti Niemi to cut the sharks lead to 2-1.

Wingels setup a Sharks goal less than 40 seconds later, sending a pass through the slot to Michal Handzus who snapped a shot just inside the left post for this first goal of the season.

Andrew Shaw made it a 3-2 game at 10:55 of the period when he one-timed a feed from behind the net after the Sharks defense over-pursued the puck and their forwards failed to cover the trailing Blackhawks centerman. Bryan Bickell made the feed that Shaw deposited for his 2nd goal of the season.

The Sharks went into Keystone Cop mode in front of their own net, allowing Chicago to fight back and tie the game. Defenseman Justin Braun gathered a loose puck at the top of his own crease and tried to skate it out, but he ran into Wingels in the slot. The puck hit Wingels skate and did a 180 back toward the Sharks goal where Marcus Kruger was there to sweep it past Niemi. It was simply an atrocious mistake to make.

The opening period would end dead-locked at 3-3, but both teams appeared to settle down.

San Jose was beginning to build momentum in the 2nd period, when Andrew Desjardins leveled former Sharks Jamal Mayers with an open ice hit just inside the Chicago blueline. Duncan Keith immediately went after Desjardins, as Mayers lay on the ice trying to gather himself after the monster hit.

Kowal and Charron conferred before laying out punishment. Everyone in the building expected the Sharks to go on the power play because Keith instigated the fight that ensued Desjardins hit. To the delight of the Sharks faithful Keith was awarded five minutes for fighting, two minutes for the instigator and an additional two for unsportsmanlike conduct, which was attributed to him fighting with a visor on. Then the Sharks got the bad news. Desjardins received five for fighting and a match penalty for applying the hit to Mayers head. The issue was, he never touched Mayers head. Replays clearly showed that Desjardins hit Mayers shoulder to shoulder.

So rather than receiving their due, a 4-minute power play, the Sharks lost a forward and had to skate 4-on-4 for 4 minutes before going on a one-minute penalty kill. The momentum had been yanked out from under the Sharks skates, and Chicago would capitalize.

On the ensuing 4-on-4, San Jose tried to skate another puck out of their own end but Jonathan Toews picked Douglas Murray's pocket and sent a feed to Patrick Kane on the opposite wing. Kane snapped a shot that Niemi couldn't track to give the Blackhawks the 4-3 lead.

San Jose had the entire 3rd period to try and work the equalizer, but failed to pressure Crawford. They had a power play chance at 6:34 of the period when Nick Leddy took a holding penalty, but Niemi played the puck outside the trapezoid 11 seconds later to even things up.

A last ditch effort incorporated the removal of Niemi from the ice for an extra attacker, but Kane took a Kruger feed up the right win boards and whipped a 40 foot shot into the empty net to empty the arena.

The Sharks will get two cracks at the Blackhawks on their upcoming 6-game road trip. San Jose will travel to the United Center on February 15th, then will fill a return engagement a week later after a quick stop in St Louis.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
CHI 3 1 1 5
SJ 3 0 0 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 5 (Clowe, Vlasic), 2:54. 2, SJ, Wingels 1 (Handzus, Sheppard), 5:18. 3, CHI, Saad 1 (Seabrook, Toews), 10:08. 4, SJ, Handzus 1 (Wingels, Boyle), 10:47. 5, CHI, Shaw 2 (Bicekll, Staltberg), 10:55. 6, CHI, Kruger 1 (unassisted), 11:37.
2nd period - 7, CHI, Kane 5 (Toews), 11:52.
3rd period - 8, CHI, Kane 6 (Kruger, Seabrook), 18:48, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Boyle, SJ (holding), 6:43; Leddy, CHI (hooking), 17:00; Boyle, SJ (holding), 17:57.
2nd period - Keith, CHI (instigator), 8:48; Keith, CHI (instigator - face shield), 8:48; Keith, CHI (fighting major), 8:48; Keith, CHI (10 min misconduct), 8:48; Desjardins, SJ (fighting major), 8:48; Desjardins, SJ (match penalty), 8:48; Kruger, CHI (tripping), 16:15.
3rd period - Leddy, CHI (holding), 6:34; Niemi, SJ (delay of game - Ill play goalie), 6:45; Sharo, CHI (slashing), 14:41; Vlasic, SJ (slashing), 14:41.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
CHI - Crawford 33 30
SJ - Niemi 30 26
SJ - empty net 1 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
CHI 16 6 9 31
SJ 10 12 11 33
Power Play Conversion
CHI 0 of 4
SJ 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Jonathan Toews
Tommy Wingels
Patrick Kane
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Kowal, Charron. Linesmen:
Murray, McElman.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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