SAN JOSE, CA – In a game featuring two rather disgruntled hockey teams, the San Jose Sharks managed to come away with a much needed two points as they now head out on a two week, nine game road trip beginning Sunday. The Sharks had dropped their previous two games before coming away with the 5-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night but it was the visitors who were even more desperate for a win.
Joel Quennville’s squad were 0-5-1 in their previous six coming into action against the Sharks, but unfortunately for Chicago, a double minor for high sticking less than two minutes into the game helped give San Jose an early edge.
Sharks defenseman Justin Braun converted his second goal of the season on the ensuing power play. All told, three of the Sharks goals would be scored with the man advantage, as San Jose was able to survive a second period where they were severely outplayed and out-shot 17-3.
Dan Boyle would add another power play marker mid way through the opening stanza and the Sharks looked to be well in control at the first intermission. However in the middle period is where the game very easily could have gotten out of hand in the other direction.
“[We] decided to quit skating and watched them, basically for a period,” Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said. “We were chasing them all over the rink.”
Fortunately for the Sharks, one of their three shots found a way into the back of the net even if it wasn’t shot towards the net to begin with as Thornton’s pass attempt caromed into the goal off a defenseman’s stick.
“I pass and it seems to go in, so maybe I should pass more,” joked Thornton, whose father even recently told him to shoot the puck more.
The tally gave the Sharks back the lead after Chicago forward Marcus Kruger had scored a pair of goals midway through the frame to tie the score. But the struggling Blackhawks would never hold the advantage in the contest.
Even after Bryan Bickell tied the score early in the third at three a piece, San Jose’s Benn Ferriero notched what would end up being his fourth game winning goal of the season (in just 25 games mind you) just a couple minutes later.
“I just go to the blue paint, go in their and bang and hack away. That’s where a lot of the goals come from,” chimed Ferriero on the goal.
Jamie McGinn would cap the scoring in this one, burying a power play goal into the top corner of the net on a nice tight spin move with a little under six minutes remaining.
“When you’re in tight, you have to go upstairs. I’ve been taught that since day one,” said McGinn. “I think my dad’s jammed that into my head since day one. I was just trying to make a hard spin move to the net and get a good shot away.”
McGinn was an assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick as he fought former junior teammate Bickell early in the third period. The bout was the second in the game (Ryane Clowe fought former teammate Jamal Mayers in the first period) that saw more than the usual amount of rough stuff as each team was on edge.
“Emotions were high; both teams needed a win,” added Thornton. “But you realize the two points is huge for the standings right now. So [it was a] good emotional game.”
Along with scoring three power play tallies, the Sharks were a perfect three for three on the penalty kill. Both special teams units will be key on the grueling road trip ahead begins Sunday in St. Louis.
Notes: Antti Niemi made 30 saves on 33 Chicago shots, coming up with another strong performance against his former club.
Brent Burns had his second three assist game in his last four games. He has eight points (all assists) in his last four games.
Thornton extended his point streak to five games with his goal and Couture extended his to eight games with two assists.