The Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks both carried four-game winning streaks into their matchup Sunday night, and only one would be able to extend that streak. Scott Darling continued to man the net for the Blackhawks as he looked to rebound from a couple four-goal games. While this performance wasn’t quite to the level of his duels with Antti Raanta and the New York Rangers, Darling put in a better effort and complemented nice defensive efforts by those wearing the Indian head.
While the Sharks played a defensively sound game and limited the Blackhawks chances, Chicago was able to limit San Jose’s chances to a similar degree. This was possibly the second to last start for Darling before Corey Crawford’s return, and the Sharks proved to be another hearty challenge. He’ll have one more opportunity, Tuesday night.
As of now, Corey Crawford on target for a Dec. 23 return to game action, per Joel Quenneville. #Blackhawks
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) December 18, 2016
The Blackhawks were without Artem Anisimov and coach Joel Quenneville rolled a second line of Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza and Marian Hossa for much of the game. This trio was able to make an impact on the game, as Hartman was able to score the go-ahead goal roughly seven minutes into the third period. In a year that the Blackhawks organization has desperately needed for some younger players to begin contributing in a meaningful way, the impact of Hartman and Hinostroza, especially in the absence of Anisimov, is a large sigh of relief.
The first period passed by after fairly even chances on each end of the ice. The Blackhawks had the first man-advantage after Timo Meier got called for kneeing Hartman. Despite a few chances, the Hawks were unable to make the Sharks pay. The Sharks shorthanded effort did a good job at keeping the puck to the perimeter, and most of the Blackhawks shots ended up being taken from quite a distance, creating easy saves for Martin Jones.
Both teams struggled to generate many quality chances throughout the first period. Each side suppressed shots and limited access to the slot and center of the zone, and neither team was able to establish any semblance of a good rhythm in the opening frame.
The Sharks were given their own first opportunity on the power play after the puck rolled off Niklas Hjalmarsson’s stick while clearing the defensive zone, causing a delay of game penalty. San Jose had the same difficulty the Blackhawks had earlier and were unable to generate any high-danger opportunities. Beyond this, the Sharks didn’t register a single shot on net during their man-advantage and did not register a shot in the final 12:36 of the period. After one frame, the score remained locked at zero, with shots favoring the Blackhawks, 10-6.
While neither team truly stood out as a whole, certain lines did shine brighter than others. The Blackhawks continued to benefit from quality play from their stars. After the first period, Patrick Kane skated over eight minutes, while Jonathan Toews and Artemi Panarin both skated north of seven minutes. It was clear that Joel Quenneville was looking to lean heavily on his stars, especially with Artem Anisimov out of the lineup. At least through the first twenty minutes, Quenneville saw some decent results from his stars, just no goals.
Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews did not allow a shot attempt in the first period. Had a plus-6 Corsi. Patrick Kane second at plus-5.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) December 19, 2016
Less than two minutes into the middle frame, Brent Burns wristed a shot from the corner of the zone, which was then deflected by Joe Pavelski and snuck past the Blackhawk goalie. Pavelski operates one of the most skilled set of hands in the NHL, and the deflection was nothing outside the ordinary for the Olympic centerman. The Sharks continued to pour the pressure on as they drove the puck deep into the Blackhawks zone and sprung multiple odd-man rushes, leaving the Hawks chasing. Chicago, having just faced the bruising St Louis Blues the night before, came out somewhat heavy footed in the second period, and it appeared they took their time getting up to full speed. This was evident as San Jose jumped to a quick 4-0 shot lead with the long change.
The reprieve manifested itself for the Blackhawks in the form of a Joe Thornton cross-checking, giving them at least a two-minute rest from the offensive rush of the Sharks. Despite the penalty, the Sharks got off a shorthanded shot before the Blackhawks finally registered a pair of shots during the penalty, neither very worrying for Jones.
The Blackhawks were shortly thereafter sent back to the penalty kill courtesy of a Duncan Keith interference call. While the Sharks did not end up scoring, they had plenty of pressure and Darling was forced to make a number of quality saves. While only 30 minutes had run off the clock, he had the showing of a bounce back performance, despite the 1-0 deficit.
With about three minutes left in the period, Duncan Keith launched a slapper from the point despite the Hawks not having anyone in front of the net or a solid zone presence set up. Jones blocked this shot aside, where Panarin gathered the puck. He then sent it back up top to Keith who one-timed the puck and sent it whistling past Jones’ blocker for Keith’s first goal of the year, tying the game at 1-1, where it stayed through the end of the second period.
Each team continued the defensive effort as players jockeyed for any possible advantage. These were far and few between as two highly disciplined teams refused to give an inch, showing a healthy respect for the talent on the other bench. There was plenty of hustle and effort trying to create opportunities.
At one point, a Blackhawks rush led Melker Karlsson to dive to the ice attempting to block a shot, as he got to his feet, his slide took him into a collision with Tyler Motte and Karlsson’s head and shoulder made incidental contact with an innocent Motte. Karlsson lay prone on the ice and had to be helped to the locker room once the whistle blew.
Vinnie Hinostroza won a draw just under seven minutes into the period. Hartman was able to grab the puck from the feet of the centermen and simply whipped the puck on net. A classic example of just getting the puck on net, he was able to fling the puck to the far left corner past a flat-footed Jones. Hartman and Hinostroza have had plenty of time to build chemistry together, spending time at the University of Wisconsin as teammates, playing together in Rockford with the Blackhawks AHL affiliate, the IceHogs, and now in Chicago.
Hinostroza continued that line’s success late in the period putting a wrist shot through the five-hole of Jones, which was quickly followed up by an empty-net goal by Kane, solidifying the Chicago Blackhawks fifth straight win, and sending the San Jose Sharks home at the end of their road trip with a sour taste in their mouths.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) December 19, 2016
SJS – J. Pavelski (11) assisted by B. Burns and P. Martin
CHI – D. Keith (1) assisted by A. Panarin
CHI – R. Hartman (6)assisted by V. Hinostroza
CHI – V. Hinostroza (3) assisted by T. van Riemsdyk and R. Hartman
CHI (EN) – P. Kane (10) assisted by A. Panarin and J. Toews
THW Three Stars
First: S. Darling (33 Saves, 0.971 Save %)
Second: R. Hartman (1 Game Winning Goal, 1 Assist, +2)
Third: V. Hinostroza (1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2)
Ottawa Senators at Chicago Blackhawks
United Center – 7:30 p.m. CST on Tuesday, Dec. 20.
Broadcast channels –CSN-CH, RDS2, TSN5
2016-17 Season Series:
First matchup of the season