The San Jose Sharks (35-15-6, 76 points) defeated the Chicago Blackhawks (33-10-14, 80 points) by the final score of 2-1 in the shootout at home. Antti Niemi was great in net for the Sharks and Joe Pavelski netted the lone goal in another tight, low-scoring game.
Goaltending was again the theme of the night as both Niemi and Corey Crawford were great in net. Niemi would end the game with 29 saves on 30 shots while Crawford stopped 38 of 39 shots. Both had a little help as well from the iron, but in all were the big reason this game was low-scoring.
In the first period both the Sharks and Blackhawks exchanged chances as well as shots of the post, yet nobody was able to score. They also traded power play opportunities but once again, neither side was able to capitalize.
The second period was much of the same, as there was plenty of back-and-forth action with each team getting their chances. The Sharks stopped two more Blackhawks power play opportunities while not converting on one themselves. The second period was also the only time Chicago outshot San Jose, and that was by a slim 13-11 margin. Through 40 minutes the game was still scoreless.
Finally, in the third period, we got some goals. The first was by Pavelski who scored a short-handed goal after he received a nice pass from Scott Hannan from the San Jose blue-line. Pavelski picked up the pass at the Chicago blue-line, split the defense, then fired a wrister past Crawford to give San Jose the 1-0 lead.
Immediately following that goal and still on the power play the Blackhawks would capitalize after the San Jose penalty kill would fail to clear the puck. Eventually it would come to Kris Versteeg as part of a two-on-one down low. Versteeg sent a pass over to an open Brandon Saad to Niemi’s left who proceeded to blast a one-timer by the San Jose goaltender. Just like that it what 1-1.
Eventually the Sharks would earn late power play with 2:28 left but were unable to get a goal in crunch time.
In overtime the best chance would go the the San Jose Sharks on a two-on-one with Martin Havlat and Patrick Marleau, but a great backcheck forced a bobble by Marleau who was unable to pull the trigger. The Sharks outshot the Blackhawks 3-1 in the overtime.
In the shootout the Sharks went first and scored on all three attempts with the final goal coming from captain Joe Thornton on a beautiful toe-drag which put the game out of reach. On the other side Niemi stopped one of the two shots he faced which was enough to lead his team to victory.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Antti Niemi (29 saves)
2. Corey Crawford (38 saves)
3. Joe Pavelski (1 goal, 2 shots, 1 hit)