Blackhawks snap home skid by beating Sharks

Brian Hedger  - Correspondent | Sunday, 11.09.2014 / 11:18 PM

CHICAGO -- The sting of defeat was still fresh in the minds of the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday at United Center.

They were determined not to fumble away a big lead for a second straight game. They stayed focused on snapping a three-game home losing skid. They didn't melt after a shaky second period and closed out the resilient San Jose Sharks for a 5-2 victory, the Blackhawks' first at home since Oct. 26 against the Ottawa Senators.

Unlike a 3-2 loss Friday to the Washington Capitals, a stunning defeat that featured a blown 2-0 lead, this one ended the way Chicago has come to expect: Goals late in the third, by left wing Bryan Bickell and captain Jonathan Toews into an empty net, sealed the win and prevented another deflating collapse.

"You can see where the confidence in tight games and playing the right way and doing the right things is a work in progress right now." Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think [there was] probably a little hesitation on our part, knowing we've lost some tough games that we traditionally win."

Amid a turbulent start to the season, the goals by Bickell and Toews eased those nervous feelings. They were a welcome relief for the Blackhawks (8-6-1), who took a 3-0 lead in the first on goals by three defenseman: Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and rookie Trevor van Riemsdyk, whose first NHL goal opened the scoring.

The Sharks pulled within 3-2 on goals by forward Joe Pavelski, but it wasn't enough.

"Finding the right things and being comfortable and making right decisions is what we're working through," Quenneville said. "We've got to nail that. It's got to be one of our strengths."

Goaltender Corey Crawford is one of their strengths; he made 32 saves to earn his fifth win. Former Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi (32 saves) took the loss for the Sharks (8-6-2), who played their second game in a 24-hour window and looked like it at the start. Falling behind 3-0 wasn't exactly part of coach Todd McLellan's game plan.

"I saw a team that wasn't prepared to compete, lacked catalysts, guys that were going to settle the game down and make us play the right way, and as a result we're down by three [quickly]," McLellan said. "I don't know if they were more hungry. They certainly were more committed to their game than we were in the first."

San Jose flew to Chicago after a 5-3 road win Saturday against the Dallas Stars in which the Sharks scored four goals in the third to overcome a 3-1 lead. They nearly overcame a 3-0 deficit in a furious second period against Chicago, but Crawford came up with big saves and the Blackhawks regrouped during the second intermission.

With the memory of what happened against the Capitals still fresh, the Blackhawks made sure San Jose didn't follow suit. They also made sure their strong first 20 minutes wasn't wasted. Chicago dominated the first period, scoring three goals in a 2:34 span midway through the period, and held a 3-1 lead to start the second.

Van Riemsdyk scored at 12:00 to put Chicago up 1-0. Following a clean faceoff win by Toews, the puck slid above the right circle for the rookie defenseman, who stepped into a slap shot that sailed through traffic and beat Niemi on the short side.

The goal could possibly go to left wing Kris Versteeg upon review by the League, but van Riemsdyk cared only about the lift it provided. Either way, he earned his first NHL point.

"I heard it hit something before it went in the back of the net, so I wasn't sure what it was," van Riemsdyk said. "I was just happy that if it went in, I'd have an assist on it just to break those zeroes I had across the board before it."

Seabrook, who shouldered much of the blame for the blown lead against Washington, made it 2-0 at 14:10 with his third goal. Using two Sharks as a screen, he scored on a shot from the right point that Niemi didn't see in time. Hjalmarsson gave Chicago a three-goal lead 24 seconds later with a wrist shot from the slot for his first goal of the season.

Pavelski quickly responded with his first of the game, making it 3-1 at 15:32 by tipping Justin Braun's long shot from the right point past Crawford.

That was one of the few early highlights for the Sharks, who trailed 20-9 in shots after the first. However, a big second nearly brought them all the way back; they got Pavelski's second of the game on a power play to make it 3-2 and outshot Chicago 13-6.

That was as close as San Jose got.

"It's not the result we wanted, so there's not a whole lot [of positives]," Pavelski said. "We have to learn from it and just understand that we have to do it the right way. We have a system set in place and we have to do it the right way."

Scoring Summary
1st Period
12:00CHI Kris Versteeg (4) ASST: Trevor van Riemsdyk (1), Jonathan Toews (7) 1 - 0 CHI
14:10CHI Brent Seabrook (3) ASST: Brad Richards (6), Peter Regin (1) 2 - 0 CHI
14:34CHI Niklas Hjalmarsson (1) ASST: Marian Hossa (5), Marcus Kruger (2) 3 - 0 CHI
15:32SJS Joe Pavelski (6) ASST: Justin Braun (7), Joe Thornton (9) 3 - 1 CHI
2nd Period
04:51SJS PPG - Joe Pavelski (7) ASST: Joe Thornton (10), Patrick Marleau (11) 3 - 2 CHI
3rd Period
15:18CHI Bryan Bickell (2) ASST: Johnny Oduya (1), Brandon Saad (8) 4 - 2 CHI
18:03CHI EN - Jonathan Toews (6) ASST: Patrick Kane (6), Duncan Keith (6) 5 - 2 CHI
Three Stars of the Game
Trevor van Riemsdyk
Trevor van Riemsdyk
G: 0Shots: 3
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 16:46
Joe Pavelski
Joe Pavelski
G: 2Shots: 5
A: 0Hits: 1
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 0TOI: 16:08
Niklas Hjalmarsson
Niklas Hjalmarsson
G: 1Shots: 2
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 3TOI: 25:32
Penalty Summary
1st Period
2nd Period
02:57CHI Andrew Shaw  Hi stick - double minor against  Joe Thornton
3rd Period
04:57SJS Jason Demers  Hi-sticking against  Bryan Bickell
09:06CHI David Rundblad  Holding against  Jason Demers
18:03SJS Marc-Edouard Vlasic  Roughing against  Kris Versteeg
18:03CHI Kris Versteeg  Slashing against  Marc-Edouard Vlasic
18:03CHI Kris Versteeg  Fighting (maj) against  Marc-Edouard Vlasic
18:03SJS Marc-Edouard Vlasic  Fighting (maj) against  Kris Versteeg
18:26CHI Jeremy Morin  Fighting (maj) against  Adam Burish
18:26SJS Adam Burish  Fighting (maj) against  Jeremy Morin
18:26SJS Adam Burish  Roughing against  Jeremy Morin
18:59SJS Brent Burns  Tripping against  Brandon Saad
19:04SJS Scott Hannan  Boarding against  Peter Regin
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays1/30/3
Faceoff Wins3134
Blocked Shots1017
Penalty Minutes2018
5J. DemersD00-14217:38
8J. PavelskiC2005016:08
10A. DesjardinsL00-1009:10
12P. MarleauL01-23021:02
15J. SheppardC00-23016:32
19J. ThorntonC02-12016:37
27S. HannanD00-10215:36
37A. BurishR00-2178:29
39L. CoutureC00-12018:18
41M. MuellerD00-31017:17
44M. VlasicD0003722:41
48T. HertlC00-12016:25
57T. WingelsC00-21019:48
61J. BraunD0100020:55
81T. KennedyC0001013:56
83M. NietoL0000014:59
88B. BurnsD00-34222:36
89B. GoodrowR00-1208:16
31A. Niemi3236.88959:02
2D. KeithD0121022:18
4N. HjalmarssonD1032025:32
5D. RundbladD0001213:35
7B. SeabrookD1012017:13
11J. MorinL001058:21
12P. ReginC011007:36
16M. KrugerC0113015:28
19J. ToewsC1123019:31
20B. SaadL0105015:08
23K. VersteegR1023716:36
27J. OduyaD0112024:51
28B. SmithR0011018:15
29B. BickellL1002010:53
57T. van RiemsdykD0113016:46
65A. ShawC0000413:58
81M. HossaR0114019:32
88P. KaneR0123017:28
91B. RichardsC0112011:05
50C. Crawford3234.94160:00