On Thursday night, the Chicago Blackhawks saw some droughts end as both Andrew Shaw and Brad Richards notched power play goals in order to end extensive goalless streaks, as well as bring some production to what has been a glaringly stagnant power play for the better part of the year. On Saturday afternoon, they continued their slump-busting ways in a 6-2 trouncing of the finally-on-the-cusp-of-rebuilding San Jose Sharks.
The Hawks got a pair of goals from Patrick Sharp in the effort, with his first coming on a breakaway right after the Hawks killed off a penalty early in the first period. Antti Niemi made the original save, but Sharp stuck with the rebound in order to flip the hard-angle shot over Niemi for the goal-ahead goal.
The Sharks would stick around for a bit, though, as they were able to even it up in the latter quarter of the period. Melker Karlsson, who represents one of several clearly madeup names throughout the Sharks roster, scored amid a cloud of chaos in front of Corey Crawford that stemmed from an inability to clear the zone.
The Hawks would go back up on a Duncan Keith power play (!) (*Sidenote - Every mention of a Blackhawks power play goal will henceforth be followed by an explanation point) goal, coming on a top shelf shot that left Niemi with no chance. Brent Seabrook scored a goal of his own, but unfortunately it was a deflection off of a Joe Thornton shot that went past Crawford for the equalizer.
Then the third period happened.
The Hawks notched four goals in the frame, without a response from San Jose. Brandon Saad opened up the third period scoring on a breakaway goal that came off of a sweet feed from Teuvo Teravainen (who had another very, very good game). Bryan Bickell broke his own slump with a goal, as Brad Richards found him wide open in the slot. Patrick Sharp added a second power play (!) goal, with Marian Hossa, another Blackhawk who has fallen victim to nonsensical shooting percentage numbers, knocked in the empty netter to run it up a bit more.
Funny thing about this one, though, in contrast to Thursday night in Phoenix, the Hawks were actually outshot and didn't have the most impressive of possession numbers. Only seven members of the Blackhawks actually finished on the positive side of the Corsi threshold, and the Sharks held a serious edge after two periods. That's how things go sometimes. Sure feels good after launching well over 40 shots against the Coyotes and only finding the back of the net twice.
A couple of observations:
- When he wasn't on his ass (which was probably 3/4 of where his time on the ice was spent, Andrew Shaw has a couple of dynamite screens that led to goals. He was right in Niemi's face, with no one from the Sharks to tell him otherwise.
- Teuvo continues to build confidence, and he's starting to carry himself in that fashion more out on the ice. He's going to be so much fun to watch.
- Hey, Patrick Sharp scored! Twice! First goals in 19 games. Watch this roll he's about to go on.
- Antoine Vermette was quietly excellent again. We'll talk more about him later.
- Corey Crawford was very, very good again.
Three Stars of the Game
3. Antoine Vermette
We're (I'm) going to discuss Vermette's immediate impact with the Hawks at length in the coming days, but for the most part, he's proven to be an incredible fit in a short amount of time. His play finally paid off with points on Saturday, as he contributed a pair of assists to the effort, including one on Sharp's breakaway goal that set him up perfectly to make that run. More solid work from the veteran.
2. Corey Crawford
Despite the final score, the Sharks held a decent edge in the shot and shot attempt departments for the better part of the first 40 minutes of this game. But Crawford ensured things remained tied and came up with some big saves for the Hawks, as he's done consistently for the past several weeks. He finished the afternoon with 33 saves on 35 shots.
1. Patrick Sharp
Finally. The guy's been through hell in the past several weeks, amid rumors of his off-ice..business (that was never in any sort of way confirmed) and his horrid goalless drought that extended all the way to 19 games. You knew it was coming, though, with some strong chances against Phoenix on Thursday. He was finally able to cash in for a pair on Saturday. Hopefully this leads to something of an adjustment in regard to where his shooting percentage should actually be.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.