The San Jose Sharks (13-3-5, 31 points) fell to the Chicago Blackhawks (14-3-4, 32 points) by the final of 5-1 at the United Center. The loss is San Jose’s first regulation loss in six games.
The Sharks, who were facing an opponent on the second night of back-to-back games, were playing their third game in four nights and at times showed it. They looked pretty slow all game and for a majority of the game the Blackhawks looked freshest.
It was also another tough outing for San Jose starting goaltender Antti Niemi, who allowed five goals on 27 shots throughout the game. He has not been himself lately after his hot start. The defense in front of him has been less than stellar as well and this night that was amplified against a potent Blackhawks offense.
Still, the Sharks started the game pretty well but could not gain a lead. Instead, it was Chicago who jumped out to the early 1-0 lead when Brandon Pirri scored to open the game up as he fired a rebound into an open net because Niemi was out of position due to the original shot. The assists were credited to Patrick Kane, who was the one who fired that shot on net. Kris Versteeg picked up the secondary helper.
Later in the second period the Sharks would tie the game on Joe Pavelski’s eighth goal of the season on what seemed like a harmless shot from just inside the blue line. The shot, however, squeaked by Corey Crawford and was definitely one he would have liked back. Still, that would be the only goal allowed by him for the rest of the game.
The Blackhawks would then answer on a Patrick Sharp goal four minutes later on a one-timer from Niemi’s right. The pass was by Marcus Kruger who sent it to Sharp across the slot.
From then on Chicago held onto the lead and added goals by Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg, and Sharp who scored his second goal of the night on a penalty shot with under two minutes left in the game.
All in all definitely not San Jose’s best performance of the season, and they will be looking to get back on track as they face the Tampa Bay Lightning in San Jose on Thursday. I’m sure the Sharks will be getting some hard practicing considering the team has three days off until their next game.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Patrick Sharp (2 goals, 1 assist)
2. Kris Versteeg (1 goal, 1 assist)
3. Corey Crawford (23 saves)