Hawks sweep Sharks, set NHL record
The Chicago Blackhawks set a new NHL record, recording at least a point in their 17th consecutive game (14-0-3). (USA TODAY IMAGES)
CHICAGO – Three times the San Jose Sharks have faced the NHL’s best team. Three times, they’ve come up short.
Brandon Saad’s shorthanded goal at 2:24 of the third period was the difference in a 2-1 Chicago win at the United Center. The Blackhawks set a new NHL record, recording at least a point in their 17th consecutive game (14-0-3).
The Sharks (8-5-3) lost for the eighth time in nine games, failing to build off of a 2-1 win in St. Louis on Tuesday.
On the winning goal, Saad raced across the blue line with Brent Burns directly in front of him. Burns inexplicably slowed up, though, giving Saad a lane to fire it past Antti Niemi with time winding down on a Sharks power play.
San Jose failed to convert on all four of its power play opportunities, while giving up its first shorthanded goal of the season. The Sharks are just 2-for-46 on the power play in the last 11 games.
The impressive Blackhawks swept the three-game season series, winning at HP Pavilion on Feb. 5 and in Chicago a week ago.
Patrick Marleau opened the scoring late in the first period. Joe Thornton threw the puck on net with Joe Pavelski crashing the crease, and Marleau deposited the rebound off of Ray Emery at 19:45.
The goal was Marleau’s second in the last 10 games, after he scored nine in the first five.
Chicago tied it up in the second. Less than a minute after killing off another failed Sharks power play, Viktor Stalberg skated to the corner and threw it towards the net from below the goal line. The puck deflected off of Burns’ stick and through Niemi at 16:40.
The Sharks failed to get a shot on goal in the second until there was 11:05 to go, but still had a pair of power play chances. They failed to convert after Dave Bolland’s hooking penalty at 13:58, and Chicago killed Michal Rozsival’s holding penalty at 18:07 of the second.
The Sharks, who entered the game tied for 22nd in the league in scoring, have two goals or less in 10 of their last 11 games.
For all of the Sharks’ power play struggles, the penalty kill continues to be a strength. The Sharks killed off both Blackhawks power plays, and are 47-for-50 in the last 13 games.
San Jose is 0-for-18 on the power play since Pavelski scored late against Columbus on Feb. 11 in a 6-2 loss.
Niemi fell to 1-4-1 in his career at the United Center since he left the Blackhawks. He made 32 saves.
Emery improved to a perfect 7-0-0, beating the Sharks for the second time in a week with 26 saves.
TJ Galiardi and Jason Demers returned to the lineup after sitting out Tuesday in St. Louis. Matt Pelech, who also played against the Blues, was reassigned to Worcester earlier in the week.
The Sharks play the final of six straight road games on Saturday night in Dallas. It’s the first of four games between the Pacific Division rivals.
On Tuesday, the Sharks host the Colorado Avalanche at HP Pavilion in the first of a three-game homestand that includes Detroit and Nashville.
The Sharks fell to 3-4-0 when getting outshot; 6-3-0 when scoring first; and 2-1-3 when tied after two periods.