The Chicago Blackhawks seemed re-energized after four days off as they tamed the San Jose Sharks in a 5-2 blowout victory on Wednesday night.
As the game got started, the Blackhawks dominated possession, and they racked up chances in the early going. Marian Hossa got a mini-breakaway off of a great feed from Marcus Kruger, but Martin Jones was able to make the stop. Jonathan Toews also got a quick shot on a Hawks power play, and Andrew Shaw had a rebound opportunity, but neither would go.
Finally, the intense pressure yielded results for Chicago, and they seized an early lead. Patrick Kane grabbed the puck in the neutral zone and stopped as he crossed the blue line, and when he found Brent Seabrook at the opposite point the defenseman slapped a shot past Jones to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
Despite the Chicago onslaught, the Sharks kept the score close, and when Ryan Garbutt committed a penalty, San Jose took advantage. Joe Pavelski set the play up as he made a cross-ice pass to Brent Burns, and the bearded sniper ripped a shot past Corey Crawford to knot things up at 1-1.
Just a few minutes later, Chicago took the lead right back. After Garbutt kicked a pass up along the boards, Toews jumped out on a 2-on-1 rush and fired a wrist shot over Jones’ shoulder to put the Blackhawks up by a 2-1 margin.
In the early portion of the second period, the Blackhawks seemed to be knocked back on their heels, and the Sharks racked up scoring chances early on. Burns had a couple of good shots on goal during the opening minutes, as did Joel Ward and Pavelski, but Crawford was up to the task as he kept the Blackhawks ahead.
Eventually, the Blackhawks got their legs back underneath them, and a fluke shot resulted in a key insurance goal. Duncan Keith was the beneficiary of some good fortune as he flipped a shot in toward the net, and with Marc Edouard Vlasic screening him, Jones allowed it to skip into the back of the cage to put the Hawks up by a 3-1 margin with 20 minutes left to play.
The Sharks got two power plays in the opening minutes of the third period, but Chicago was up to the task on both occasions. Tanner Kero and Hossa each made good plays to clear the puck out, and Crawford was on top of his game when needed as the Hawks maintained their two goal lead.
The good times didn’t keep rolling for the Blackhawks however, and the Sharks eventually cut into their lead. Off a face-off win from Pavelski, Patrick Marleau received a back-pass from Burns and ripped a wrist shot off the inside of the goal post to trim Chicago’s advantage to 3-2.
Just over a minute later, the Blackhawks responded. Kero directed a shot on net that Jones was able to knock down, and Andrew Desjardins fought off Vlasic and slid home the rebound to put the Blackhawks in front by a 4-2 margin.
The Sharks pulled their goaltender with less than two minutes to go, but it was Chicago that took advantage as Andrew Shaw stole the puck in the neutral zone and ripped home a wrist shot to give the Hawks a 5-2 edge.
The Blackhawks will next take the ice on Friday afternoon when they battle the Anaheim Ducks in a Western Conference Final rematch. Puck drop is slated for 4 p.m.