Despite a miserable early performance, the Blackhawks were able to dig out of a couple two-goal deficits in a wild first period.
And this time, it was the team’s youngest players leading the way.
Corey Crawford got off to a rough start, allowing two goals in the first 5:18 on Tuesday night. But a flurry of action that included four goals in 89 seconds got Crawford off the hook and saw two of the league’s better defensive teams tied at 3-3 when the first period ended.
This time, however, the kids picked up the veterans.
Brandon Saad finally got on the board after improving in every game this season. His tally opened the flood gates that resulted in the 3-3 score; Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger also scored in the first period. For Saad and Kruger, it was their first goals of the season; it was the second for Shaw.
After the first period ended, Crawford settled down nicely. He ended the night with 30 saves against 33 shots in the game, shutting down the Sharks’ offense – all 23 shots – over the final 40 minutes to collect the victory.
The tape from Tuesday night will certainly be in the file when Jonathan Toews’ credentials for the Selke are considered this year. He won nine of 10 faceoffs in the third period (17 of 26 in the game), was credited with four takeaways and two assists in the game. One of his takeaways led to Patrick Kane’s game-winning goal, scored at 11:52 in the second period.
In the middle of the second period, Andrew Desjardins hit Jamal Mayers high, sending Mayers to the ice. Earlier in the game, Desjardins hit Duncan Keith behind the Hawks net and Keith was slow to get up. This time, Keith took exception to a high shot on a teammate.
Keith jumped in to fight Desjardins, and the result saw Keith called for 19 total penalty minutes and Desjardins sent to the showers early; the Sharks center received a match penalty in addition to the fighting major.
In spite of his 19 PIM, Keith finished the night plus-two and still skated 17:38 in the game.
Plenty of Blachawks factored into the five goals scored in San Jose. Kane scored twice (including an empty net goal late in the third), making him one of four Hawks that had two points in the game. Toews (two assists), Brent Seabrook (two assists) and Kruger (goal, assist) also had multi-point efforts.
Also credited with assists for Chicago were Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell.
Bickell stepped up his physical play late in the first period and put good pressure on the Sharks throughout the game. He was credited with three hits and two takeaways in the game.
Dave Bolland skated 18:11 in his return from a leg injury that kept him out of the lineup in Calgary. He won seven of 16 faceoffs and was credited with one hit in the game.
As we mentioned before the game, special teams were a crucial part of the game as well. The Blackhawks killed all four of the Sharks’ power play opportunities in the game, but Chicago also failed to convert any of their three advantages.
The Blackhawks are now 8-0-2 to begin the season.