In a battle between two of the top teams in the NHL so far this season, the Chicago Blackhawks prevailed over the San Jose Sharks by a score of 5-3 last night at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
The game got off to a frantic start, as two teams known for the ability to shut down their opponents scored a total of six goals in the first twelve minutes of the game.
The Sharks got goals from Joe Pavelski, Tommy Wingels, and Michal Handzus. While the Blackhawks got goals from a trio of youngsters in Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, and Marcus Kruger.
The 20-year-old Saad got his first career NHL goal at 10:08 of the first period off a one-timer slap shot high and to the glove side of former Blackhawks’ goaltender Antti Niemi. The play was set up beautifully by a backhanded pass from defenseman Brent Seabrook.
The 6’1”, 202 pound Saad was selected by the Blackhawks in the 2nd round (43rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. This season he was called up to replace an injured Daniel Carcillo on the Blackhawks’ top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. By all accounts he has performed outstanding.
With the score tied 3-3, and the teams seemingly settling down, neither was able to score until the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane scored his fifth goal of the season off a pass from Jonathan Toews at 11:52 of the second period. Toews lifted the stick of San Jose’s Douglas Murray and stole the puck right from under him right before sending the pass to Kane. Kane has goals in his last three games and has only gone one game this season without a point.
With the score 4-3 late in the third period, the Sharks pulled Niemi for the extra attacker. The strategy did not pay dividends as Patrick Kane buried an empty netter, his sixth goal of the season, with 1:12 to play.
Blackhawks’ goalie Corey Crawford picked up his sixth win of the season (1st in the NHL) and is now 6-0-2. He faced 32 shots and made 29 saves. His save percentage on the season is now .930 (6th in the NHL) and his GAA is 1.82 (5th in the NHL).
The Blackhawks (8-0-2) will continue their road trip when they travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes (4-4-2) on Thursday night. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8:00 p.m. CST.
Blackhawks’ center Dave Bolland returned to the lineup after missing one game due to an injury he suffered against Vancouver on February 1st.
The Blackhawks penalty kill went 4-for-4 and remains tops in the NHL at 94.9%.
Tough guy Brandon Bollig and Michal Rozsival were healthy scratches.