The Blackhawks finished out their California road trip against the San Jose Sharks tonight. Chicago looked to trend in a positive direction after a win over Anaheim on Sunday night.
The Blackhawks struggled to gain any momentum in the offensive zone in the opening period, which is a consistent theme. San Jose had too many rushes up the ice, but Chicago defended them fairly well and Robin Lehner bailed them out when he had to.
About halfway through the period, Noah Gregor was called for hooking and the Blackhawks went on the power play. Once again, they had trouble sustaining time in the zone and the Sharks cleared the puck repeatedly. Both units only recorded on shot in total on that man advantage.
Chicago found themselves chasing after the puck for the remainder of the period, and that caused them to get into some penalty trouble. Duncan Keith was called for hooking with just over two minutes left. Robin Lehner made a few great saves, but the pressure continued to overwhelm the Blackhawks as Brandon Saad sat for hooking with 33 seconds left in the period. Luckily, they killed off what they needed to in order to leave the period unscathed.
The Sharks dominated the Blackhawks in shots on goal 14-3, reflective of what was a dominant possession period for the home team.
More of the same transferred over from the first 20 minutes to the beginning of the second. Shortly after Chicago killed the two penalties, every player watched as the puck moved freely in San Jose’s zone. Joe Thornton slipped a pass to Timo Meier, who spun and simply threw the puck on net. Patrick Marleau was left all alone to the right of Lehner with Brent Seabrook directly behind him, and he directed the shot into the net to give the Sharks the lead just 1:39 into the period.
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) November 6, 2019
After going without a shot for the last 15 minutes of the game, the Blackhawks finally recorded their first shot on goal of the second period with 8:47 left. Patrick Kane took advantage of a chance to shoot the puck off a rare defensive breakdown by the Sharks in this game. That would only be their fourth shot of the game up until that point.
San Jose had chance after chance, while the Blackhawks had only recorded one shot in the middle frame. It looked like they would get some more offensive opportunities with a power play, but nothing was clicking. Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon cleared the puck around the boards and it hopped right over Adam Boqvist’s stick at the blueline. Evander Kane was able to get a step on him and Dominik Kubalik and shoot right through Lehner’s five hole for the shorthanded goal.
The Blackhawks finally maintained a bit of pressure after that goal, but Martin Jones stopped everything that was thrown his way. San Jose led the visitors 2-0 in goals and 26-8 in shots on goal through 40 minutes of play.
Once again, the Blackhawks failed to start on time at the beginning of the period. They sat back on too many of San Jose’s plays and were reluctant to find their way into the offensive zone, playing the dump and chase game.
That cost them just under five minutes into the third frame. After Robin Lehner played the puck towards the boards for Chicago to clear out, the Sharks went to work down low. Tomas Hertl skated around behind the goal while holding onto the puck and Duncan Keith right on his tail, slashing away at the puck to try and set it free. Hertl kept possession, eventually maneuvering to the faceoff dot to the right of Lehner and simply throwing the puck on net. It slipped right through a hole on Lehner’s glove side and put the Sharks up 3-0.
Andrew Shaw then committed a penalty, high-sticking on Erik Karlsson, which the Blackhawks killed off with some good defensive work. Chicago got another power play chance of their own when Patrick Kane was high-sticked, but nothing seemed to be working on either unit.
In the last seven minutes or so, the Blackhawks began a push for more scoring chances, something they lacked for the first 50 minutes of the game. All of this pressure paid off when they had a solid defensive zone exit and a smooth entry into the offensive zone. A few great passes between Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews, and Andrew Shaw led to some open ice. Shaw sent a cross-ice pass to Toews while Saad drove toward the net and redirected the puck home off Toews’ pass, cutting the Sharks lead to 3-1.
Just over a minute later, the Blackhawks opted for six skaters on the ice and the net empty. Jonathan Toews won a faceoff against Logan Couture and passed back to Duncan Keith. Patrick Kane exchanged two quick passes with Keith, who looked for a lane and took a chance with a slapshot. It found its way through bodies in front of Martin Jones and into the back of the net. All of a sudden the Blackhawks were a goal away from tying the game.
Duncan Keith with a slapper! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/CJbfh6IsZp
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) November 6, 2019
But all hopes of a comeback were short-lived when Timo Meier wristed a shot into the empty net to give the Sharks some cushion thirty seconds later, extending their lead to 4-2. Even though the Blackhawks outshot the Sharks 13-6 in the final 20 minutes, it wasn’t enough of a push to get at least a point. Final shots on goal were 32-21 in favor of San Jose.
- The penalty kill continues to be one of the biggest bright spots for the Blackhawks. They went 3-for-3 on the PK in this outing, and killed 15 out of 16 on the four-game road trip. For a team that seems to have a lot of defensive issues, it’s great to see one thing working right for them, even if the best penalty killers are the goalies more often than not.
- When this team is off their game, it’s not even by a little bit. They’re either on or off, nothing in between. This game showcased just that, as they only had eight shots and 17 shot attempts through the first two periods of the game. The Blackhawks did push back a bit in the third period, but that’s not enough. They need to consistently play a full 60 minutes night in and night out if they seriously want a chance at winning hockey games.
- After a good game in Anaheim on Sunday, the top six went completely missing in this matchup, outside of Brandon Saad’s goal. In fact, only the fourth line of Caggiula-Carpenter-Shaw posted positive possession numbers, and it was easy to spot with the eye test, too. They have to be better than that, and they all know it.