The Chicago Blackhawks came into Saturday night’s action 1–1 on their road trip, taking down the Arizona Coyotes in overtime on Wednesday night, then dropping the following came to the Los Angeles Kings 4–1. They did not look good in that game, and seemed to be lost throughout, but were looking the right the ship on Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks. Kevin Lankinen would get the start in net after coming into the game on Thursday night for Collin Delia. The only other lineup change was Caleb Jones switching in for Calvin de Haan.
After an early turnover by Alec Regula led to a good chance for the Sharks that did not go on net, the hosts would get another chance with just over six minutes gone in the frame. Alexander Chmelevski took the puck into the offensive zone and got a shot on Lankinen, who bounced the puck right off of his pads to a waiting Scott Reedy. Reedy then tipped it to Jasper Weatherby, who put the puck in the back of the net to make it 1–0 San Jose.
The Blackhawks then got consecutive chances to try to even the score, with Kaapo Kahkonen proving up to the task, stopping Reese Johnson, Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat in short order. Tomas Hertl tried to increase the Sharks’ lead but was foiled by Lankinen, who made a diving stop with his skate to keep the score the same.
With just over two and a half minutes remaining in the frame, the Blackhawks got another flurry of chances on goal, with Kane, Strome and DeBrincat each getting opportunities. Kahkonen proved that he was on his game, though, stopping everything thrown his way. Then, with just under a minute remaining, the Toews line got more chances to even the score, but were stymied as well.
Regula started things off with a horrible turnover with his lack of awareness, leading to a 2-on-1 for the Sharks, with Hertl being on the receiving end of a Timo Meier pass to one-time the puck to the back of the net, 2–0 Sharks.
Then, with nine and a half minutes left in the period, Meier runs smack into Alex Vlasic, popping the puck up in the air. It then comes down to Alex Barabanov, who managed to flick the puck toward the net, right to Meier who backhanded the puck past Lankinen, 3–0 Sharks.
With just under four and a half minutes left, Toews found the puck in behind the Sharks net, getting it out in front to a wide open Tyler Johnson, who put it past Kahkonen to make the score 3–1 Sharks.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) April 24, 2022
The Sharks started things off with some action in the offensive zone, with a shot from the point being redirected over to a wide-open Thomas Bordeleau, who could not get much on the shot, allowing Lankinen to get back over and stop the shot with his skate.
Just after that sequence, Johnson picked up a penalty for cross-checking, giving the Sharks a power play. They made good on that opportunity, with Brent Burns receiving the puck at the point, getting it over to Nick Bonino, who skated up and wristed the puck right past Lankinen, making the score 4–1 San Jose.
Despite some more chances, the Blackhawks could not muster anything else resembling a great scoring chance, leading to a 4–1 loss.
Honestly, this was a horrible defensive game to watch. Not only was Lankinen pretty putrid in net, but the defense in front of him, namely the young guys Regula and Vlasic, were not up to the task. They made too many mental mistakes, got in their own heads and allowed the Sharks to just take over this game in every aspect. The more I watch this season, the more I would like for the Blackhawks to really commit to tearing everything down, as this team is not a well-built team in the slightest.
The Blackhawks play next on Monday night back home in the United Center against the Philadelphia Flyers. That game will be on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. CDT.