The first three road trips of the season for
the San Jose Sharks have all been of the 5- game variety, including the start
of the current trip which began with a stop in the Windy City on Sunday night.
The Sharks clamped down on the Chicago Blackhawks, aided by a big 29 save
performance by James Reimer. The Sharks used a pair of goals to knock off
Chicago 2-0 at the United Center to grab a much needed two points in the
Reimer was the man of the hour, especially in an imbalanced
1st period, which was all Chicago. The Blackhawks started the season with an
awful start, mired by the sexual misconduct allegations that mired the
franchise. A head coaching change has resulted in 6 wins in their last 8 games.
The Blackhawks owned the opening period, out-shooting San Jose 11-4 in
the frame. Reimer was the difference here. He was not only forced to stop all
11 shots that Chicago threw at him in the period, but they were of the high
quality variety, which made the netminder's performance all the more
San Jose's 4 shots were aided by an Erik Gustafsson
hooking penalty, but the Sharks could not capitalize.
Roles would be
inverted in the 2nd period, when the Sharks pummeled Blackhawk goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury with shots. San Jose would match Chicago's 1st period shot
output by the midway point of the 2nd frame, and finished with 15 shots on goal
in the period.
Rudolfs Balcers and Timo Meier teemed up to make one of
those shots count 13:39 in. The Sharks cycled the puck around the Chicago end
boards before Logan Couture found Balcers loitering in the slot. The Sharks
forward snapped a shot that clipped Meier's stick and deflecting past Fleury
for the 1-0 lead.
Balcers has gone 10 games since scoring a goal, but
he was the reason the Sharks scored what would be the game winning goal.
Brent Burns took an ill advised hooking penalty 7:57
into the 3rd period, putting his teammates in precarious position, but Reimer
stood tall again. The Blackhawks power play ended with a shot from the slot
that Reimer squeezed to help preserve the Sharks slim lead.
head coach Derek King elected to pull Fleury with 2:28 left in the contest. San
Jose capitalized when Time Meier scored an empty netter at 18:29.
that was left was getting Reimer the shutout. Chicago would only muster a shot
by Gustafsson, but Reimer dealt with it as he did the other 28 that the
Blackhawks threw his way. It was a nice way to rebound after his performance
against Toronto on Friday night. Game Notes:
Dahlen made his return to the Sharks lineup after suffering a shoulder injury
on November 20th when the Sharks played the Washington Capitals at SAP Center.
Dahlen skated 19 shifts and recorded a single shot on goal.
defenseman Mario Ferraro leads the NHL in blocked shots. He finished Sunday's
game with 7 blocks.
* Logan Couture recorded a pair of assists in the
game to push his season total to 11.
* The shutout was James Reimer's
25th career and 4th with the Sharks.
* The Sharks continue their trip
on Tuesday in New Jersey. That game will only be available on ESPN+/Hulu. They
are then scheduled to play the Islanders on Thursday, but that game is up in
the air after the Islanders were hit with a COVID exposure issue. It's not
clear why the NHL is not forcing the Islanders to call up farm hands to field a
team as the Sharks did at the start of the season.