Sharks 3, Blackhawks 2

Every now and again the old, helpless lady beats up the tall, grizzled would-be purse snatcher.  On Tuesday night at the United Center, the San Jose Sharks did just that, somehow escaping a violent assault at the hands of the dominant Blackhawks.

And, they did so using their top guns, as both Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley had a goal and an assist in a game the Sharks were only able to muster 14 shots – and only four and three in the first and second periods, respectively.

Most importantly, they were able to score early.  Immediately following a productive – though not fruitful – Hawk power play just a few minutes into the game, a neat Dan Boyle play in the Hawk zone gave Heatley an opportunity for a quick one-on-one against Huet deep.  Huet made the first move, and Heatley made him pay, beating him upstairs.

The Sharks were able to weather the Hawks’ 26 shots during the first two periods and got a break when Kris Versteeg made a fatal – and unfortunately familiar – mistake on the power play, floating a no-look pass to the middle of the ice at the Shark blue line.  Joe Pavelski stole the puck and made a nice pass to Thornton on the ensuing 2-on-2.  Jumbo Joe got a free shot down low on Huet, who again made the first move before Thornton beat him up high with a backhand.  It gave the Sharks two goals on no more than seven shots and a two-goal lead headed to the third period.

The Hawks big chance in the frame came when Toews found himself staring at an empty net from the Shark goal line.  His hurried attempt to stuff it home hit both posts before bouncing out of the crease.

They weren’t out of it, though, as evinced by their 21 shots in the third.  They finally hit paydirt when Joel Quenneville decided to reunite Marian Hossa with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.  Just four minutes into the final frame, Hossa won a battle behind the net and slid it in front to Patrick Kane, who snuck it behind Evgeyni Nabokov. 

After a Sharks’ icing infraction off the ensuing face-off, however, Quenneville rolled the dice, again calling on Toews, Hossa and Kane for the draw in the Shark zone.  The Sharks won it, and immediately came back the other way, where a nifty Heatley pass found Jason Demers in the high slot.  Demers threw a shot on Huet, who apparently lost himself in the net.  The shot beat Huet far side and gave the Sharks a two-goal lead only 20 seconds after they’d relinquished it.

The Hawks wouldn’t be held down, though.  Numerous chances were stopped before Hossa walked the goal line on a 4-on-4 and beat Nabokov up high with less than two minutes left.

A mad scramble late wasn’t enough to take the Hawks to overtime, and the Sharks left the Windy City with two points despite a 14-shot stink bomb.

Are You Not Entertained?

– Pressure, pressure, pressure.  It sums up the Hawks’ efforts on Tuesday night.  It just wasn’t enough, as – surprise, surprise – the Shark goaltender made a handful of difficult stops and the defense kept the Hawks to the outside other times. 

– Yes, it’s tough to lose on home ice, but if you’re looking for signs the Hawks are among the league’s best teams, look no further.  The Hawks dominated the Sharks nearly every minute of the affair they just weren’t able to win.  And, for those with a burning urge to talk about messages being sent from one team to another, consider Tuesday evening a singing telgram to the Sharks.  Message delivered.

– About the only good thing San Jose can say following the game: their best offensive players made the best out of a scarce few opportunities.  Each of their goals came in transition and involved a side-to-side pass that isolated a Shark with Huet.  Each featured great players making great plays.

– Sticking with the Sharks, a season-and-a-half ago, the team lost its offensive defenseman, Brian Campbell, who signed with the Hawks.  Just three days after the signing, the Sharks sent Matt Carle, Ty Wishart, a first and a fouth to the Lightning for another play starter – Dan Boyle.  Not so bad.

– Huet’s night wasn’t exactly stellar.  How could it be with a save percentage on the wrong side of 80%?  But, two of the three were of the one-on-one variety against all world players – Heatley and Thornton.  On a better night, Huet stops Demers in the third and gives the Hawks a chance to tie it late.

– Two shifts into the game, I noticed an extra hop in Marian Hossa’s step.  Fifty-six minutes later, Hossa had racked up a goal and an assist in the losing effort.  Hossa has 12 points in 13 games, and hasn’t been at his best yet.  The good news: if you’re ready for the Marian Hossa experience, I’d tune in for the next week or two.  It’s coming.

– What the hell was Pat Foley doing in the penalty box?  A second period shot (on Versus) of the box showed Foley there in all his glory.  Must be nice.

– Scott Nichol is overrated – and he’s a fourth liner.  His year as a Hawk six seasons ago serves as one of the organization’s screaming lowlights.  Only in America (and occassionally in Canada).

– Next up, the Red Wings tomorrow night in Detroit.  If the Hawks play like they did Tuesday, it should be a beating.  As we’ve said so many times this season, though, the Wings will be heard from come spring time.

– The obvious extra step in Dustin Byfuglien’s early step was explained when it was revealed Team USA GM Brian Burke was in attendance.  I still expect Buff to be on the team – just not on its power play point.

– Can we go back to Campbell and Seabrook on the first unit power play points now?  Please?

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17 Responses to Sharks 3, Blackhawks 2

  1. Drew says:

    Pin this one on Cristobal Huet.

    A real NHL no. 1 goalie stops Heatley.

    A real NHL no. 1 goalie doesn’t flop down and give up the top shelf every time.

    Yes, I know Dominik Hasek did it, but managed to come up with the save—and Hasek could pull out wins for his team. Huet does not have this in him. He’s been around the league long enough that if he was going to figure it out, it would have happened by now.

    Lord Stanley isn’t coming back to Chicago as long as Cristobal Huet is on the team.

  2. John says:

    Yeah, he blows. Let’s get Marty Biron in here.

  3. Razzberry says:

    To be fair, Hossa scored on a 5-on-4 since the Hawks pulled the goalie during the 4-on-4.

  4. Dave Morris says:

    Gentlemen, get ready for the ‘Lynch Huet’ Mob.

    Wait, they’re already here.

    The Sharks played rope-a-dope, plain and simple. Take the punches, take more punches, and take some more…and then land one, two, three perfect shots to the jaw of your opponent.

    When Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton get as much space as they did to deliver their RPG blasts…the goalie gets beaten. Period.

    The Demers goal was a total defensive breakdown by the Hawks, and a perfect strike at the perfect time.

    Kane and Hossa were the best Blackhawks last night by miles. And they made this game look close.

    Keys to the game:

    >Jonny got owned at the dot.

    >DunkinSeabs minus three.

    >The Big Combo: Too many bad angle shots, too many turnovers, not enough hits by Les Blaque Hawques.

    Oh, and Nabokov was excellent…but beatable.

    No time for coulda woulda shoulda, got the WingThing comin’ right up.

  5. Lou says:

    Where is the PP?

    Toews remains fiesty.

    Way too many outside shots!!!

  6. illinikc33 says:

    Drew,

    You are an idiot.

    Love,

    Everyone who has watched this team all season.

  7. Lou says:

    @Illinkc33, I think you are holding back some.

  8. Dave Morris says:

    Q said it, gang.

    “We had some good opportunities but I thought our best chances missed the net. We had some shots go high and wide. It was one of those games that we needed some ugly goals and we didn’t get any.”

    In Q We Trust.

    Wing Night!

  9. blackhawkbob says:

    OK, OK, settle down, boys.

    Dave, calling last night’s Shark performance a rope-a-dope is far too kind to our San Jose friends. There are plenty of ways to win in the NHL, but giving up 50 shots a night isn’t one of them. The Hawks did everything but win the transition battle – not necessarily surprising given they were left to get comfortable in the San Jose zone over and over and over again. If you played that exact game over 100 times, the Hawks win 98 of them.

    Drew, I understand your golatending frustration. It’s difficult to see such a great performance go unrewarded. The fact remains that Huet is, by far, the Hawks’ best option to win come springtime. Remember that he shut out two divisional opponents back-to-back prior to last night’s game.

    Tough loss, but would you feel any better if the Hawks were out-shot 47 to 14 and won 3-2? I think not.

  10. Patrick says:

    Good recap guys – after the way that Huet has been playing, a letdown was bound to happen, and in my mind, at least it was against the Sharks rather then the Panthers. Seeing Duncan and Seabrook at -3 is my big beef with the evening.

    Have another chance to beat up on the AHL Wings tonight for two points, so let’s focus on that. Who gets the start in goal?

  11. Dave Morris says:

    @BlackhawkBob> kindness to our friends from San Jose is all in the spirit of the holiday season.

    Seriously…how many of those 47 shots were quality chances? Nabby had good sight lines on most of them. And the Sharkies were there to scoop up the garbage. *And*, the SJs made their chances count. That’s whatcha call yer rope-a-dope, eh.

    Like The Hoss said, “”We outshot them, but we couldn’t create the top, top chances. We tried to shoot from bad angles, but their goalie played well. We just have to be more poised with the puck and trust each other more on the power play. We have to make sure we know where to be under the pressure.””

    Straight from the Hoss’ mouth.

    And as Q pointed out, Les Hawques also missed the net 13 times.

    All right…now how about some Wings? You want Hawk sauce with that?

  12. John says:

    This was how many quality chances they had…

    http://scores.espn.go.com/nhl/gamecast?gameId=291222004

    That shot chart looks like a red blob from the slot in. There’s no such thing as a bad shot on net.

    When the Hawks lose, we all look for different reasons why they didn’t win. Sometimes, the explanation is as simple as it wasn’t their night.

  13. Lou says:

    Well Said John

  14. Dave Morris says:

    John> you can’t argue with the math, eh.

    But when a team gets 47 shots and they only get two goals, 7 PP chances and get a big goose egg for it, give up 14 shots but allow three gimmes, you can’t say “it wasn’t their night”.

    There are no excuses. The Hawks didn’t play well enough to win.

    And BTW, if the shot count and score were reversed, I would have been delighted. Because two points is all that counts.

    Now, let’s see if the Hawks play well enough tonight.

  15. Lee says:

    Hey Dave and John:

    Still think we don’t need a tough guy after Pickle got creamed by Fraser, San Jose Tough Guy????.

  16. Dave Morris says:

    Lee> after blanking the Red Wings *again* tonight, all the Blackhawks need is to win more games like this one.
    🙂

    Merry Christmas!

  17. Lee says:

    Same to you from Sunny florida!

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