HP PAVILION — The Sharks know all too well: Nothing comes easy.
A little over five minutes into the opening period and just like that, San Jose is up 2-0. But the Blackhawks have the best record in the league for a reason.
4:50 later, the Blackhawks scored their first of three goals and by the end of the first period it was a 3-3 tie. Two key plays both went against Team Teal and it would be Chicago skating to a 5-3 victory at the Tank.
Post-Game Audio: Sharks Coach Todd McLellan
“When you score three or have a chance to possibly score four (goals) you should win in the league. So giving up five, throw the empty netter out, giving up four is very disappointing for us.”
During the game it appeared it would be vitally important to describe each of the six goals scored by the two teams in exacting detail, but like all sporting events, games always are defined by a few key plays.
Unfortunately, the Sharks not only had to contend with the Blackhawks but the officials as well.
In the second period, Andrew Desjardins tried to chase the puck and was incorrectly ejected, given a match penalty for a hard hit on former Shark Jamal Mayers.
Due to the fast pace of hockey, in real time it looked as if Desjardins made contact with the head and that would have been cause for disciplinary action. But replays showed it was a clean hit, though Mayers head did snap as if it was more vicious.
Post-Game Audio: Sharks forward Andrew Desjardins
“I saw the puck come up I just made a hit, It’s a fast game I guess they just saw something different. It looked good to me but that’s the way the game goes.”
Mayers saw the play differently although his reply to reporters indicates he likely did not see a replay:
Post-Game Audio: Blackhawks forward Jamal Mayers
“It was a hit to the head. I’m not sure it was elbow or forearm or whatever it was. We’re trying to get that out of our game but its unfortunate that it happened.”
Duncan Keith came to the aid of his teammate and a fight quickly ensued. Because of the match penalty to Desjardins, San Jose was on the penalty kill but should have been on the man advantage.
Shortly after the conclusion of the game, the officials realized their mistake and rescinded the infraction, not that it changed the final outcome.
The turning point came midway through the second period. Douglas Murray had just finished checking Jonathan Toews in the Sharks end and Murray came away with the puck. But Murray is not known for his stickhanding and Toews picked Murray’s pocket, quickly passed the puck to Patrick Kane in the slot who buried the puck into the net.
Murray, who doesn’t normally address the media after the game, explained what happened.
Post-Game Audio: Sharks Defenseman Douglas Murray
“Well obviously, it just can’t happen. I felt I had him on my back and he picked my pocket. I defended him right before and obviously I thought I had more separation than I did. “
San Jose may have scored three goals in the opening period but both teams settled down and clamped down defensively in the final 40 minutes. Neither team really had good scoring chances. San Jose with limited opportunities but that turnover by Murray would stand up.
The Sharks pulled Antti Niemi for the extra attacker with 1:20 left but another turnover resulted in an empty netter for Kane and that’s all she wrote.
Chicago moves on and remains the only team unbeaten in regulation.
After playing a game every other day for the past two weeks, the Sharks finally get some R&R, something Coach McLellan says the team needs.
“We need it, we need to rest. Obviously mentally we weren’t sharp. Physically some guys need some rest. We’ll get a good practice on Thursday, something we haven’t had for a long time. And get a workout Friday and back to work.”
The Sharks’ next game isn’t until Saturday vs. Phoenix at 1 p.m.
The Sharks have killed 31 straight penalties dating back to the third period against the Phoenix Coyotes on Jan. 24, 2013. Chicago was 0-for-4 with the man advantage. … But San Jose’s power play was also 0-for-4 and is 1-for-22 in the last five games. … Both Tommy Wingels and DesJardins scored their first goals of the season. … Chicago’s Brandon Saad netted his first career goal in 11 games and his windmill celebration rivaled that of Tiger Woods. … Sharks F James Sheppard assisted on Wingels’ goal for his first NHL point since getting an assist on March 26, 2010, for Minnesota.