Along the Boards: Blackhawks beat Sharks 6-2 amid Coronavirus scares


Wednesday’s game saw two teams relatively out of the playoffs face off for the last time this season. Both teams have shown flashes of greatness this season, but neither have been able to reach their ultimate potential. Corey Crawford got the start for the Blackhawks in what felt like his 100th start in a row, while Aaron Dell was in net for the Sharks.

It was an evenly matched first period with the Sharks getting the slight edge via a power play goal. Two Blackhawks penalties back to back set up the early deficit. Dylan Strome got two minutes for tripping Evander Kane and 15 seconds into that power play, Ryan Carpenter got called for high sticking Joe Thornton. The Blackhawks were tied for seventh in the NHL on the penalty kill with an 82.3% success rate and they were a mere six seconds away from getting a player back before Kane and Thornton would get their revenge. Thornton hit Kane with a solid pass to Crawford’s side and Kane buried his 26th goal on the season.

The Sharks had 15 shots on net compared to the Blackhawks 14, but San Jose had the one that counted.  Nevertheless, Sharks led 1-0.

The second period saw the Blackhawks as the beneficiary of the power play as they scored three goals, two of which were with the man advantage. That simple fact is important for several reasons: In the last five games, the Blackhawks were 0–14 on power play chances and the Sharks boasted the number one penalty kill in the league. Despite their elite penalty kill Sharks will probably not make the playoffs this season.

Hockey is weird.

Antti Suomela got called for hooking and the Blackhawks took advantage of the man advantage with some great teamwork from Kirby Dach and Duncan Keith. Dach set a tremendous screen in front of goalie Aaron Dell which allowed Keith to fire a shot a few feet from the blue line for only his third on the season, but the 101st goal of his career. Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat both got an assist on the goal. What is important to know about that goal is Dach may not be filling the stat sheet and is not in a lot of box scores, but he is playing some fantastic hockey this season. He is winning a lot of face-offs and it is not going unnoticed. Hawks tied the game 1–1.

The Blackhawks got another shot at the power play when Evander Kane got two minutes for holding Dylan Strome and Strome got a nice chance in the middle of the ice to break the tie, but Dell made a quick glove save to keep the score even.

Towards the end of the second period was when the Blackhawks started to get hot though. Brent Burns got two minutes for roughing Brandon Hagel, who was making his NHL debut, as Burns caught him with an elbow. Thirty seconds later, DeBrincat and Patrick Kane made the Sharks pay.

DeBrincat came down the right side of the ice on the power play and found Kane in motion to the goal for his 32nd on the season. Dell did not see Kane until it was too late. It is always good to see DeBrincat on the box score after he has been having a down season. Alex and Duncan Keith got an assist on the goal.

The Blackhawks tallied ANOTHER goal 90 seconds later from Brandon Saad for his 21st goal of the season with an assist from Toews and DeBrincat. The Blackhawks were a lot quicker and more effective in the second period and were showing that previously mentioned flash of greatness many have speculated about. Home team was up 3–1 heading into the third period.

The third period, much like the second, was all Blackhawks. Alexander Nylander got his skates wet in the scoring pool when he converted a wrister from Strome for his 10th on the season to give the Hawks a 4–1 lead.

Timo Meier converted on an assist from Evander Kane from the neutral zone to cut the lead back to two, but it would be the last time the Sharks would get on the board. Despite the Sharks pulling within two (4–2), from then on, it was simply all Blackhawks. Patrick Kane got his second of the game and 33rd on the season on an assist from Slater Koekkoek and Nylander. Blackhawks were now up 5–2.

Then, rookie sensation Dominik Kubalik got his 30th goal on the season fed by a nice drop pass by Dach which Kubalik sniped over Dell’s glove hand.

Blackhawks won easily 6–2 and the game never seemed in jeopardy. Crawford stopped 34 of 36 shots and earned his 15th win of the season.

The Sharks announced earlier in the day that they would play the remainder of their home games this season without fans in the arena. The Columbus Blue Jackets followed suit and the NHL could make an official announcement after the game or as early as this morning to suspend all play with the NBA suspending their season, following a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for the Coronavirus. Very scary things going on that surpass the game of hockey. If the virus panic does not do away with the season altogether, the Blackhawks will be playing Friday at 7:30 p.m. CDT at the United Center against the Ottawa Senators.

Whether it be in front of a home crowd is another story as the teams could end up playing with no spectators.

Center Ice Forums Along the Boards: Blackhawks beat Sharks 6-2 amid Coronavirus scares

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