Sharks blank Hawks as offensive struggles continue


The Chicago Blackhawks wrapped up their brief two-game home stand with a matchup against the San Jose Sharks at United Center on Sunday night. At 10–9–1, the Sharks were playing the first of five straight road games, while the Hawks hit the road for their next three after Sunday’s contest. The Hawks started the birthday boy, Marc-Andre Fleury, against veteran James Reimer, who is off to a strong start in his second tour of duty with San Jose after signing as a free agent from Carolina during the offseason.

With the Blackhawks hosting Hockey Fights Cancer night, emotions ran high at the UC, as Blackhawks legend and current radio analyst Troy Murray returned amidst his own battle with cancer to drop the ceremonial first puck.

First period

The Hawks had a lot of jump in the opening frame, especially during the second half of the frame, as Reimer made multiple point-blank saves to keep the game scoreless. The Blackhawks killed a Sharks power play and then gradually took over the play with substantial zone time and generated several quality scoring chances, but had nothing to show for it as the game remained scoreless after one. Chicago outshot San Jose 11–4 in the first.

Second period

The Sharks opened the second with a much better effort, as they began to activate their defensemen, which led to some high-danger chances from the slot, but Fleury continued to shine. Fleury also received some help from Hawks defenseman Jake McCabe, who saved a goal by clearing the puck just before it crossed the line during a goal-mouth scramble near the midway point of the period.

At the 13:39 mark, right after the Blackhawks failed to score on a 2-on-1 break, Timo Meier scored his eighth of the season by deflecting a Rudolfs Balcers shot from the slot to give the Sharks a 1–0 lead. Give credit to Sharks captain Logan Couture, who fed Balcers with a nice redirection pass to set up the play.

After 40 minutes, the Sharks had a 1–0 lead. In the middle period, the Sharks outshot the Hawks 15–8 with both teams owning a two period total of 19 shots each.

Third period

The Hawks dominated the third by basically setting up shop in the Sharks’ zone for most of the period. In fact, with about six minutes left, the Sharks had registered just one shot in the period. With the net empty, the Hawks failed to get the equalizer, but Meier doubled the San Jose lead to 2–0 with his second of the game and ninth of the season into the vacant Chicago net. Reimer finished with a 29-save shutout, as the Blackhawks offensive struggles continued.


Overall, this was a very strong effort by the Blackhawks. Other than the second period when the Sharks applied some serious offensive pressure, the Hawks did a good job limiting high-danger chances, but were not able to capitalize on their wealth of opportunities.

The good

Marc-Andre Fleury: The Flower was sensational, especially early in the first, as he kept his team in the game. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks’ offense was unable to come through and gift him a win for his birthday.

Henrik Borgstrom: It was a solid effort by the young forward, who had multiple scoring chances and created a few others: A positive sign moving ahead as the team hopes he is able to find the back of the net.

Jake McCabe: Even though he was a -1, he was a strong presence all over the ice, highlighted by his goal-saving clear to keep the game scoreless in the second.

The bad

The power play: After starting the season strong, the Hawks have tallied just one goal in their last 11 games with the man advantage, not good considering how poorly they are in 5-on-5 play. Expect the power play to be a focus in practice with their next game on Thursday.

The ugly

The offense: The Blackhawks have scored eight goals in their last five games. Many of their top producers are in the midst of significant slumps, led by Jonathan Toews, who is without a goal at the quarter pole of the season. Of course, he gets a pass for his health issues and the fact that he does other things well, including being the only consistent winner in the dot.

The Hawks head east for a three-game road trip beginning Thursday night against the Washington Capitals. The game begins at 6 p.m. CST with the broadcast on NBCSN-Chicago and the radio call on 720 WGN.

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