Coming off one of their worst defeats of the season, the San Jose Sharks faced a tall task as they wrapped up their four-game road trip against a slew of Western Conference playoff contenders. San Jose faced their toughest challenge of the bunch as they squared off against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Playing their most complete game of the season, the Sharks got a huge bounce back performance from Martin Jones in goal as he made 33 saves in recording his fifth shutout of the year as San Jose left the Windy City with a 2-0 victory.
It was a gutsy win by the Sharks as they found themselves down one of their key defensemen as Brenden Dillon played just one minute and eight seconds after leaving the game early in the first period with an upper body injury.
The first 20 minutes of action saw both teams trade chances as this would be an evenly played game throughout. Chicago appeared to take the lead towards the end of the first when Brandon Mashinter found the back of the net, but Peter DeBoer would successfully challenge the goal due to goaltender interference, leaving things knotted up at zero after one period of play.
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San Jose got on the board first midway through the second period as their power play came through yet again. Patrick Marleau fired a shot from the right point that found its way past Corey Crawford for his 16th goal of the season. It was a big goal for Marleau, his first in seven games and first past into a manned net in his last 17 games, as he was a minus-four against the Predators.
From there on out, Jones and the shorthanded Sharks defense held firm in preventing the explosive Blackhawks offense from getting going. While Chicago outshot San Jose by a 33-27 margin, the Sharks were able to do a nice job of not allowing too many quality chances against.
As the Blackhawks pushed for an equalizer, Joe Thornton scored his 12th goal of the season into the empty net, sealing the victory for the Sharks. It was the third consecutive game in which Thornton found the back of the net as he continues to play his best hockey of the season.
San Jose heads home with a .500 road trip, but considering the opponents, the Sharks should feel good about that performance. This importance of this win can’t be overstated as San Jose was able to go toe-to-toe with the best team in the NHL on their home ice and emerge with two points in a defensive battle.
The Sharks were able to keep pace and maintain their second place standing in the Pacific Division as both the Kings and Ducks were also winners tonight. It will be a tight race down the stretch as these three teams jockey for playoff positioning with just 30 games remaining.