Nothing can ever be easy for these Blackhawks.
Chicago came out and played a strong first period. The visiting Blackhawks got on the board first at 4:10 when Alex DeBrincat scored a (gasp!) power play goal.
Contrary to what we may have been led to believe in recent weeks, the Blackhawks are actually allowed to score while having the advantage. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were credited with the assists on DeBrincat’s 39th of the season.
San Jose challenged the goal, believing contact made with Martin Jones was enough to warrant the goal being overturned. The war room disagreed and the Sharks burned their timeout less than five minutes into the contest.
Two minutes later Connor Murphy unloaded and got a fortunate redirection from a defender’s skate to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead.
Brandon Saad, who had a tremendous first period, was credited with one of the assists on Murphy’s fifth of the season. Artem Anisimov picked up the other helper.
Saad picked up his second assist of the period 4:40 later when Toews tapped in his 33rd of the year.
Erik Gustafsson was credited with an assist on the Toews goal as well.
The three goal lead lasted exactly 60 seconds until Lukas Radil got San Jose on the board. His seventh of the season broke up Corey Crawford’s shutout bid.
In the opening 20 minutes the Blackhawks held a 14-9 shot advantage. Brent Seabrook took two penalties in the first, neither of which hurt the Hawks. But between periods during his television interview with Eddie Olczyk, Saad said staying out of the box would be important for the Hawks to maintain or expand their lead in the second.
A wise piece of advice that sadly wasn’t followed in the following period.
Slater Koekkoek went to the box 42 seconds into the second period. Gustav Nyquist scored on the power play.
At 4:21 the Hawks were able to extend the lead back to two when DeBrincat scored a significant goal – his 40th of the year.
The goal was an important personal benchmark for DeBrincat in what will likely end a lost season in Chicago. DeBrincat becomes the youngest player in Blackhawks history to reach 40 goals in a season. He and Kane also made history together with the goal.
Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat of the @NHLBlackhawks are the second set of U.S.-born teammates in NHL history to each score 40+ goals in a season, joining Kevin Stevens and Joe Mullen in 1991-92 (w/ PIT). #NHLStats #CHIvsSJS pic.twitter.com/WFTPjNBbuj
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 29, 2019
Seabrook went back to the box for the third time in the game only 25 seconds after the DeBrincat goal and the Sharks took advantage again. This time Tomas Hertl was on the scoring end for San Jose.
It took almost ten minutes for either team to score again, and it was the Sharks tying the game as Timo Meier beat Crawford for his 29th of the season.
Two minutes later Chris Kunitz was in the right place at the right time and picked up a significant goal.
No records were made or broken on the Kunitz goal, but it would stand up as the final score in a game that went completely off the rails in the second period.
San Jose out-shot the Hawks 12-5 in the second period but the Hawks hung on to a one-goal lead.
Crawford played well in the third, though he officially only faced nine shots. The Sharks burning their timeout early in the first period came back to bite them late when they could have used it to organize a final attack. Chicago was able to hang on to their one-goal lead for 20 minutes and skated away with a good road victory.
Neither team was called for a penalty in the third period.
Toews put a game-high seven shots on net in the game. In addition to one goal and one assist, Toews blocked one shot and won 13 of 25 faceoffs in 18:38 on the ice.
Saad, Kane and Gustafsson were credited with two assists each in the game. DeBrincat was credited with three shots on net, scoring twice. Dominik Kahun put five shots on net for Chicago.
Murphy had a busy night. In addition to his goal, he led Chicago with six blocked shots and was credited with four hits in 20:45. Koekkoek led Chicago with six hits in the game. Seabrook was credited with three blocked shots and was called for a game-high six penalty minutes.
Chicago’s blue line was credited with three shots on goal – combined.
Crawford made 26 saves in the victory.