Sharks' comeback falls short in 4-3 loss to Blackhawks

642796.jpg

Sharks' comeback falls short in 4-3 loss to Blackhawks

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO The Blackhawks top line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg apparently didnt get the memo regarding how tight the Sharks' defense had been of late.That trio teamed up for five points, including a goal by Toews that put Chicago ahead to stay in the second period, in a 4-3 Blackhawks victory over the Sharks on Sunday night at the United Center.Oh, and they combined for no less than 17 shots on goal as the Blackhawks outshot San Jose for the game, 40-24.Just about every time they were on the ice, if they werent creating a scoring chance right away, they were holding onto the puck waiting for something to open up.

They are quick, smart players, said their former teammate, Antti Niemi. They can shoot or pass, so you have to be ready for anything.Too much, hows that? Todd McLellan said, when asked what he saw from Toews, Kane and Stalberg. Their big boys had the puck the whole night. They are a tough enough group to play against when youre managing the puck properly, but when you turn it over as many times as we didI dont know if the puck had a Blackhawk logo on it, we thought we had to give it back to them.The Blackhawks had 16 takeaways half by the top line.Toews go-ahead goal started with a misplay by Niemi. The Sharks goalie went behind the net to play the puck, but instead it ended up in the corner on Kanes stick. Kane threw it to the front of the net and Toews got the tip of his stick on it to redirect the puck into the open net before Niemi could recover at 7:06 of the second period. That made it 3-2, Chicago.Just a quick play. Couldnt get back, Niemi said.The goal was especially demoralizing in that the Sharks had erased a 2-0 deficit to tie the game early in the second on goals from Joe Pavelski and Jamie McGinn. Pavelski tipped in a wrister towards the net from Marc-Edouard Vlasic at 1:42, and McGinn wrapped the puck around and was able to beat Corey Crawford on a goal that Crawford should have stopped just 26 seconds later.I think I just surprised him going far side. I just jammed it in the net, said McGinn.The Sharks had been outplayed to that point and were fortunate to be at 2-2. That was the moment they needed to seize momentum.It didnt happen.Instead, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville called a timeout and saw his club control play for just about the rest of the period, while taking back the lead in the process. In fact, the Sharks went over 10 minutes in the second without a single shot.We had full momentum after making it 2-2. Its a good call by their coach to call time out and settle things down, but we had to take the opportunity and pounce on them right away, McGinn said. I didnt think we did that, and they got the next goal and that was key.McLellan said: We established ourselves to get back in the game, and then we gave it right back to them. It was an uphill battle from there that we werent coming back on.Although San Joses four-game road trip ended with a thud, it was just their second loss in regulation in the last 16 games (10-2-4) and ended a streak of seven games with at least a point in the standings.Weve been playing well, Joe Thornton said. Well put this behind us, and it was a good road trip.The Sharks even had a great chance to steal a point in the end. Andrew Shaw gave Chicago a two-goal cushion early in the third to make it 4-2, but Tommy Wingels first career NHL goal with less than five minutes left brought the Sharks back to within one.Niklas Hjalmarsson was called for hooking with 1:07 left in regulation, giving the Sharks a 6-on-4 advantage with Niemi pulled for an extra attacker. They couldnt capitalize, though, and finished 0-for-3 on the power play.The Blackhawks stormed out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals late in the first.Dave Bolland got it started, firing home a wrist shot past Niemi on a feed from behind the net. Niemi had trouble tracking the play behind him, giving Bolland just enough daylight to get his 13th of the season at 18:01.Chicagos top line struck for the first of its two goals with less than 20 seconds left in the period. Stalberg caught Brent Burns flat-footed in the slot and directed in a Toews pass to give the Blackhawks a two-goal lead.You come back into your zone and you stare at the puck against this team, youre in trouble, McLellan said. The puck-carrier seldom does the damage. Its who hes dishing it off to, and we just stared at the puck, and they had a number of chances off of it.Niemi finished with 36 saves in suffering his eighth defeat, but had perhaps his best stop of the year midway through the first. He lunged across the crease to rob Kane from firing it into an open net on a nice feed through the slot by Toews, snagging it with his glove and freezing play.It comes so quick that youre almost not sure if youre going to make the save, Niemi said. You just reach and realize its in the glove. It felt great.Kane, who has just two goals in his last 17 games, looked dumbfounded that the puck didnt hit the back of the net.Crawford finished with 21 saves to record the win, as Chicago has won two of three from the Sharks. They meet for the fourth and final time this regular season on Feb. 10 at HP Pavilion.The Sharks host Calgary on Tuesday.Odds and ends: The Blackhawks won 58 percent of faceoffs (33-24). Brad Winchester fought for the second time in as many nights, taking on Sean ODonnell in the first period. Ryane Clowe removed the cage he had been wearing the past two games. Did the training staff agree to let him do that? No, not really, he said. The Blackhawks had just one power play, which they did not score on. Torrey Mitchell had two assists.

Ward's sacrifice keys 'bounce-back' game for Sharks

Ward's sacrifice keys 'bounce-back' game for Sharks

SAN JOSE – Joel Ward has been in the league long enough to know that the Sharks got outworked and outhustled in their decisive loss to the Blues on Saturday.

That could be why he put his body on the line in the second period against the Jets on Monday afternoon at SAP Center. Ward hustled to a loose puck along the wall with the Sharks holding a slim 1-0 lead and slipped it ahead to Chris Tierney, before getting absolutely plastered by Mark Stuart on a hit as big as you’ll see in today’s NHL.

While Ward was sluggish to get up as a result of his head bouncing off the ice surface, Tierney gave it to Timo Meier, who finished off a breakaway goal early in the second period.

While he was seeing stars from what he called a “clean hit,” Ward also heard the goal horn.

“I tried to get the puck out, obviously, and next thing I knew I was on my back and heard the horn go off,” he said. “I wasn’t too sure what happened after that.”

What happened was a 5-2 Sharks win, two days after one of their worst performances of the season, a 4-0 home defeat to St. Louis. San Jose withstood an early push by the visiting Jets but took over the game in the second period, particularly after Ward’s sacrifice.

"That's the commitment we talk about,” Pete DeBoer said. “Taking that hit, making that play, [Meier] scores the goal. We need that. Joel's a guy that brings that to the rink almost every night. That's what it's going to take at this time of year in order to have success."

In a rare afternoon start, the Sharks looked sleepy in the beginning. The Jets were the better team for the first few minutes, but Martin Jones made sure they didn’t get on the board. He made a key stop on a Shawn Matthias one-timer just 1:29 into the first period, and then bailed out David Schlemko on a defensive zone turnover a few minutes later, again denying Matthias.

The Sharks went to the penalty kill after Schlemko’s cross-checking minor at 11:39, but Ward scored 15 seconds after that, picking the corner over Michael Hutchinson for a pretty shorthanded marker. He correctly read a Justin Braun clearing attempt, when Braun rimmed it past Dustin Byfuglien, who couldn’t keep it in at the blue line. 

After that, “just kind of saw glove side and fired it there as quick as I could,” Ward said.

That led to a dominant second period for San Jose. Along with Meier’s goal, Brent Burns scored on a power play and the slumping Jets were noticeably deflated from there.

Jones said the Jets “came out real hard,” but, “that’s pretty much all [my teammates] needed from me today. You can’t really ask for much more than that from the guys. They put up five, and slowed down a pretty fast team.”

Tierney said: “Joner did a great job of keeping us in it and not giving up a goal there and putting us behind. After that, we kind of got it going a bit and started playing our game.”

There was even some late comedy. Trailing 4-1 at the time, Jets coach Paul Maurice decided to take Hutchinson out for an extra attacker. Jones noticed the empty net and was lining up a shot after he retrieved a dump-in. It didn’t go more than a foot in front of him, though, as Mark Scheifele blocked it and slipped it into an empty net.

Jones could be seen grinning through his mask, while Tierney said he was “laughing on the bench.”

“That’s the first time I’ve tried [shooting at an empty net], and probably the last, too,” Jones said.

In total, Monday's result offered quite the change in mood from Saturday’s whipping.

DeBoer said: “I don't think anyone in our room was happy with how last game went. It was a good bounce-back game."

“It was definitely good today to rebound, and get back to winning,” Ward said.

Instant Replay: Sharks offense comes to life, ground Jets 5-2

Instant Replay: Sharks offense comes to life, ground Jets 5-2

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – Joel Ward had a goal and an assist, and survived a thundering hit in the second period, in helping the Sharks to a 5-2 win over Winnipeg on Monday afternoon at SAP Center.

Ward’s linemates Chris Tierney and Timo Meier also had a goal and assist each, as the Sharks snapped their modest two-game losing streak. Martin Jones made 26 saves in net.

Winnipeg lost its fourth in a row (0-3-1), getting swept on a three-game trip through California.

Leading 1-0 on Ward’s first period shorthanded score, San Jose took control in the middle frame.

Meier’s breakaway goal at 2:45 upped the lead to 2-0. Prior to the conversion, Ward was plowed by Winnipeg’s Mark Stuart at the defensive blue line, but managed to push the puck to Tierney in the neutral zone. Tierney’s lead pass found Meier streaking in, and the rookie deposited his first goal in 13 games and first since his NHL debut on Dec. 16 in Montreal.

Ward went to the dressing room, likely to be checked for a concussion after his head hit the ice, but returned later in the period.

Brent Burns’ power play goal gave the Sharks a three-goal cushion, when his shot went wide but rebounded off of the end boards and off of the back of goalie Michael Hutchinson’s skate at 7:08.

San Jose continued to press for the much of the remaining 13 minutes of the second period, outshooting the Jets 15-4.

Tierney added insurance with a wrist shot from the circle at 11:41 of the third, finding the puck after a Meier shot was blocked. It was his first in 14 games, and gave the Sharks a 4-0 lead.

Josh Morrissey’s goal at 17:24 ruined the shutout for Jones. Mark Scheifele scored with 15 seconds left to make it 4-2, after Jones blocked what looked like an attempt to shoot the puck into an empty net. An empty net goal by Joe Thornton capped the scoring.

After Winnipeg looked more assertive than San Jose in the opening minutes, Ward staked the Sharks the first period lead when his wrist shot found the top far corner at 11:54 of the first period. It was his fourth of the season, two of which have come shorthanded.

The Sharks have claimed both of their afternoon games this season, including a 3-2 win over the Islanders on Nov. 25.

San Jose visits Winnipeg on Jan. 24 and March 6, both of which will the second of a back-to-back for the visitors.

Special teams

The Sharks finished 1-for-4 on the power play, just their second such goal in the past seven games (2-for-17). The penalty kill was a perfect 2-for-2, coming on consecutive penalties to David Schlemko and Tierney just one minute and 45 seconds apart.

Ward’s shorthanded goal was the Sharks’ third of the season, two of which have come from the veteran forward.

Tierney’s high-sticking minor in the first period was his first penalty of the season in 44 games.

In goal

Jones made his biggest stop just a minute and a half into the game, swallowing a Shawn Matthias one-timer from the slot on a setup by Dustin Byfuglien. He denied Matthias a second time with 11:18 to go, just before Ward’s shorty.

Hutchinson took the loss with four goals allowed on 31 shots.

Lineup

The Sharks missed Joonas Donskoi for the second straight game with an upper body injury, although it doesn’t appear to be serious.

Winnipeg remains without rookie Patrick Laine, who began the day tied for the NHL rookie lead in goals (21) and points (37), due to a concussion suffered on Jan. 7.

San Jose reassigned defenseman Tim Heed and forward Ryan Carpenter to the Barracuda, presumably to play in their game later Monday night.

Up next

The Sharks close out their season series with the Kings on Wednesday night at Staples Center. San Jose won the first two, but Los Angeles swept a home-and-home on Dec. 31 and Jan. 3, the latter of which came in overtime in Southern California.