After getting shutout in Edmonton on Monday night, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville threw his lines back in the blender. Patrick Kane was bumped back to the line on which he won the Hart Trophy last year, skating with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. After a couple good games, Vinnie Hinsotroza got to start the game with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. And Quenneville put Nick Schmaltz at the dot on a line with rookies Ryan Hartman and Tyler Motte.
Unfortunately, by the middle of the second period the blender had to come out because of at least one significant player missing.
In the first period, Logan Couture scored during a brief 4-on-3 advantage for San Jose to give the defending Western Conference champions a 1-0 lead. Joel Ward scored a short-handed goal 3:10 later to extend the lead to two, where it would stay despite the Blackhawks out-shooting the Sharks 14-13 in the first period.
In the middle stages of the second period, Toews appeared to get caught up along the boards.
— John Dietz (@johndietzdh) November 24, 2016
Martin Jones continued to be strong between the pipes for San Jose, but the Hawks were finally able to break through when Anisimov set up Panarin for a missile.
The Hawks had a few other opportunities in the second period, including one pretty passing play between Hossa and Hinostroza that the Hawks’ rookie put off the post. Corey Crawford, who wasn’t exceptional in the first period, was significantly better in the second – and had to be as the Hawks gave San Jose an extended 5-on-3 late in the period.
During the two-man advantage, Marcus Kruger was sent to the room when the on-ice officials signaled down to the ice that Kruger had been picked out by the concussion spotter. Without Kruger or Toews, the Hawks were able to successfully kill both penalties.
San Jose put 13 more shots on net in the middle stanza, out-shooting Chicago 26-25 through two periods. Both goaltenders were outstanding in the second.
When the third period started, Kruger was back on the bench. Toews was not. Chicago’s captain did not return to the game after skating only only 9:15. Toews won eight of 13 faceoffs before departing.
As the third period progressed, Jones continued to be fantastic in net for the Sharks. The Blackhawks had a couple flurries in the first half of the third but couldn’t convert; on the other end of the ice, Crawford kept the Hawks within one. Niklas Hjalmarsson made a huge save with about seven minutes left in regulation as the Sharks had an opportunity with Crawford out of position as well.
Chicago continued to push the action, but a turnover forced by Joe Pavelski at the Hawks’ blue line led to a Sharks power play when Brian Campbell got caught up with Pavelski with 6:20 left in regulation.
The Hawks killed the penalty thanks to a great string of saves in the closing seconds of the advantage by Crawford.
Crawford went to the bench for the extra attacker with 90 seconds left in regulation but the Blackhawks struggled to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Duncan Keith saved an empty-net goal with 35 seconds left in the game by a matter of inches, and the Blackhawks weren’t able to generate another good scoring opportunity.
The loss drops the Blackhawks to 2-3-0 on the road trip.
While the Hawks put 34 shots on net Wednesday night, there was almost no traffic in front of Jones the entire night. Jones had a very good night, but had a good look at most of the shots and rarely had to worry about rebounds being a danger. Crawford finished with 33 saves against 35 shots.
Some of the Blackhawks’ rookies have stepped up their offensive game recently, but Chicago needs their veterans to play an active role more consistently. After recording nine points in the first eight games of the season, Richard Panik now has one point in the month of November (and it came against Calgary on the first). Kruger has points in only two of the last 19 games as well.
The Hawks are back on the ice at 3 pm CST on Friday in Anaheim.