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1st period dooms SJ in Chi-town
Sharks dig their own grave early
11/9/14 - By Mike Lee -

Playing on a 7-game road can be taxing, but throw in games on back-to-back nights and you have the recipe for some lackluster hockey. Skating less than 24 hours after their energetic 3rd period comeback in Dallas on Saturday night, the Sharks sputtered in Chicago, losing 5-2 to the Blackhawks at the United Center. San Jose allowed Chicago to administer a 3-goal body blow in the opening period, which provide to be too much to overcome.

One team was more focused than the other, and rest appeared to play a big role in the outcome of the game. That focus, or lack of, across a span of 3:32 essentially defined the game.

Continuing with their long standing tradition of surrendering a player's 1st career NHL goal, San Jose lost a draw to Jonathan Toews, who pulled the puck back to Trevor Van Riemsdyk at the right point. Van Riemsdyk ripped a shot that used traffic in front of the net to mask the drive. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi didn't see the blast as it sailed past him for the 1-0 Blackhawks lead.

Brent Seabrook converted 130 seconds later, pumping a shot from the blueline that deflected off Andrew Desjardins skate. There wasn't much Niemi could do after the puck's trajectory changed on him.

The wheels fell off when Chicago converted a third blast from a defenseman just 24 seconds later. Niklas Hjalmarsson pumped another shot from the right point that evaded Niemi, and Chicago had built a 3-0 lead before the Sharks knew what hit them.

Joe Pavelski helped cut into the Blackhawks lead with a goal at 15:32. Justin Braun fired a shot from, you guessed it, the right point. Pavelski was lurking in front of the Chicago net, and got a piece of Braun's shot with the shaft of his stick. The puck then flipped end-over-end past Blackhawks goaltender Correy Crawford for his 6th goal of the season.

The goal was created by traffic in front of the net, which San Jose could use a little more of. The net presence is typically an afterthought in the San Jose offense, which Chicago utilized extremely well on this night.

San Jose won the middle period with Pavelski's 2nd tally of the evening. Chicago presented the Sharks with a golden opportunity to get back into the game when Andrew Shaw was sent off with a high sticking double minor after he cut Joe Thornton across the bridge of the nose. Pavelski cashed in within the first two minutes of the infraction by one-timing a Thornton feed from the right side.

San Jose failed to score during the second half of the Shaw penalty, but San Jose was at least positioned to make a run in the 3rd period on Chicago's lead.

The 3rd period would not turn out to be the encore of the previous evening's game in Dallas, as San Jose traded chances tit-for-tat.

Bryan Bickell put the game out of reach with 4:42 to play, taking advantage of rookie defenseman Mirco Mueller on a live-and-learn play. Bickell carried the puck around the back of the net, floating out from the left post. Mueller was positioned between Bickell and the goal, but he allowed enough space for Bickell to pivot and lift a shot over Niemi's right shoulder.

Now down by 2 goals, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan pulled Niemi, which just allowed the Blackhawks to pad their stats. A half-hearted exit from the defensive zone by San Jose landed on Duncan Keith's stick. Two passes later, and Jonathan Toews was firing a shot from the lucrative right point that easily found the undefended goal.

Kris Versteeg took the liberty of slashing Marc-Edouard Vlasic as Toews was sending the puck to the net, which Vlasic took exception to. The pair tangled at the blueline, earning fighting majors for one of the more uneventful scraps of the season.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 0 2
CHI 3 0 2 5
1st period - 1, CHI, Van Riemsdyk 1 (Toews), 12:00. 2, CHI, Seabrook 3 (Richards, Regin), 14:10. 3, CHI, Hjalmarsson 1 (Hossa, Krueger), 14:34. 4, SJ, Pavelski 6 (Braun, Thornton), 15:32.
2nd period - 5, SJ, Pavelski 7 (Thornton, Marleau), 4:51, (pp).
3rd period - 6, CHI, Bickell 2 (Oduya, Saad), 15:18. 7, CHI, Toews 6 (Kane, Keith), 18:03, (en).
1st period - None.
2nd period - Shaw, CHI (high sticking - double minor), 2:57.
3rd period - Demers, SJ (high sticking), 4:57; RUndblad, CHI (holding), 9:06; Vlasic, SJ (roughing), 18:03; Vlasic, SJ (fighting major), 18:03; Versteeg, CHI (slashing), 18:03; Versteeg, CHI (fighting major), 18:03; Burish, SJ (roughing), 18:26; Burish, SJ (fighting major), 18:26; Morin, CHI (fighting major), 18:26; Burns, SJ (tripping), 18:59; Hannan, SJ (boarding), 19:04.
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 36 32
SJ - empty net 1 0
CHI - Crawford 34 32
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 9 13 12 34
CHI 20 6 11 37
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 3
CHI 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Joe Pavelski
Nikla Hjalmarsson
Referees: Pochmara, Sutherland. Linesmen: Cherrey, Gibbs.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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