Blackhawks continue to roll, extend Sharks' woes
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Marcus Kruger and Niklas Hjalmarsson each had a goal and an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks kept up their early-season success with a 4-1 pasting of the slumping San Jose Sharks at the United Center.
Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw also registered goals, while Ray Emery turned aside 27-of-28 shots to help Chicago (11-0-3) earn a point for the 14th consecutive game to begin the campaign, tying the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens for the third-longest season-opening streak in NHL history.
"We had a great start, we came out with a lot of energy and we were buzzing around their net a bunch," said Emery. "We got on the board early in the game, so that helps, and we played with the lead throughout the game."
Tim Kennedy accounted for the lone goal for San Jose, now 0-4-3 since beginning the season with seven consecutive victories, with former Blackhawk Antti Niemi making 33 saves in the Sharks' latest setback.
"They skated to create those opportunities," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan. "We don't look fast enough right now for whatever reason and a lot of that's execution. We'll have to look at the way we play and try just about every line combination possible."
The Blackhawks went ahead on Bolland's goal in the final minute of the first period, then dominated the second to extend their advantage entering the final session.
Kruger began the flurry with unintended help from Niemi, who misplayed the Chicago center's long shot from center ice and allowed him to poke in the rebound for a 2-0 game just 3:05 into the middle frame.
San Jose responded less than two minutes later, when Kennedy took in a heady pass from Logan Couture on an odd-man rush and placed a backhander past a sprawling Emery to cut the lead to one.
Chicago, which outshot San Jose by a 17-8 margin during the period, restored the two-goal differential later on, however, capitalizing on a roughing call that landed Sharks defenseman Jason Demers in the box.
Niemi made the initial save on Duncan Keith's blast from the left point, but Shaw was in perfect position to knock home the carom 5:20 prior to the second intermission.
Hjalmarsson's first goal of the season, a 60-foot drive from the left boards that landed over Niemi's right shoulder with 6:28 elapsed in the third period, put the Sharks in a greater hole.
Chicago cruised the rest of the way as the Sharks generated little offensive chances, save for a wrister from Adam Burish that deflected off the post with around 11 1/2 minutes left.
Bolland sent Chicago ahead 1-0 by following up his own shot as Niemi failed to see the puck loose in front, with the goal coming on a 4-on-4 that followed an extended San Jose power play in which the Sharks came away empty.
The Sharks had been awarded four minutes with the man advantage after Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews received an additional double-minor for instigating a fight between he and fellow star Joe Thornton. San Jose managed just one shot on goal, however, before a Patrick Marleau penalty returned play to even strength.
The 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks hold the NHL record of 16 straight games with a point to begin a season ... Chicago's Patrick Kane extended his point streak to eight games with an assist on Bolland's goal, having amassed seven goals and five helpers during the run ... San Jose finished 0-for-5 on the power play and has gone 1-for-27 with the man advantage over its last six losses ... Kennedy's goal was his first in the NHL since Oct. 22, 2011, when he scored against the New York Islanders while with Florida ... Blackhawks No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford was unavailable due to a lower-body injury, with the team recalling Henrik Karlsson from AHL Rockford to serve as Friday's backup ... Sharks forward James Sheppard was scratched after sustaining an undisclosed injury in Thursday's practice.
02/16 01:57:22 ET