The Chicago Blackhawks spoiled a perfect road trip as the San Jose Sharks lose their finale Sunday, Dec. 18…
Only the Chicago Blackhawks stood in the way of a perfect road trip Sunday, Dec. 18. Unfortunately, they proved too much as the San Jose Sharks lose the fourth and final game of their last trip before Christmas.
San Jose hosts the Pacific Division-rival Calgary Flames Tuesday and Edmonton Oilers Friday. Both Alberta teams are currently inside the Stanley Cup playoff picture.
The Sharks came into the game riding a four-game winning streak—their longest of the 2016-17 NHL season. They left having given up four unanswered goals.
Chicago goalie Scott Darling snapped San Jose’s run of 15 games with two or more regulation goals against a manned net. He was easily the game’s top star with 33 saves in 34 shots, including several grade-A chances.
Nevertheless, he spent more time trailing (15:36) than leading (13:01). Martin Jones had a lot to do with that, continuing his stellar play despite the excessive workload.
Jones turned aside at least as many grade-A chances among his first 24 shots faced as Darling did among his 33. Unfortunately, the next shot broke the levy.
Hence, the final score of 4-1 is misleading. The event summary showing a slight lean to the Sharks is a more accurate depiction of the ice’s tilt: 21-21 faceoffs, 11-14 giveaways, 10-9 takeaways, 25-21 hits, 34-26 shots, 57-49 attempts and 13-19 blocks.
San Jose let Darling settle into his game, facing just six shots in the first period. However, Brent Burns whipped the puck to the slot for Joe Pavelski to deflect home 73 seconds after intermission.
Darling would not let another shot by him. Jones was finally beaten with 3:11 remaining in the second. Artemi Panarin re-fed Duncan Keith for a point blast after sustained pressure.
The Blackhawks scored the game-winning goal just under seven minutes into the third. Vinnie Hinostroza won an offensive zone faceoff that Ryan Hartman was able to snap home.
The same two forwards combined to put the game away with 2:20 left. The one save Jones should have made still came on an odd-man rush.
The Sharks were pushing the attack but Hartman took possession of the puck. He sent it around the boards behind the net. Trevor van Riemsdyk then moved the puck to the blue line, where Hinostroza gathered it and counterattacked. Using the potential of a pass as a decoy, he fired a wrister that beat Jones.
Patrick Kane capped the scoring with an empty-net goal in the final minute. San Jose’s four-game winning streak is over and the road trip ends a respectable 3-1-0. The Anaheim Ducks remain a game back in the Pacific Division.