SAN JOSE, Calif. – Benn Ferriero and Jamie McGinn gave the San Jose Sharks just the spark they needed before heading out on a lengthy trip.
Ferriero scored the tie-breaking goal shortly after a fight by McGinn helped change the momentum and McGinn added his own power-play goal to send the Sharks off on their nine-game trip on a winning note, beating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3 on Friday night.
“It’s going to make us feel a little bit better,” coach Todd McLellan said. “But we know the task ahead of us is a really tough one. It’s a great challenge for our group.
Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Justin Braun also scored to help the Sharks avoid losing three straight games in regulation for the first time since October. Brent Burns added three assists.
Antti Niemi made 30 saves to win for the fifth time in eight starts against Chicago since leaving the Blackhawks for San Jose before last season.
Marcus Kruger scored two goals and Bryan Bickell also scored for the Blackhawks, who have lost seven straight games, including the first five on a nine-game trip. Chicago also has lost nine straight road games.
“It seems like tough times right now,” Chicago forward Marian Hossa said. “We just need to get out of this and we just have to battle through it. The way this thing is happening isn’t any fun right now. If we get an ugly win we’ll be able to get out of it.”
While the Blackhawks are struggling on their longest trip in 18 years, the Sharks are about to embark on a long trip of their own. With a tennis tournament and Disney on Ice coming to San Jose, the Sharks head out on a nine-game trip that begins Sunday in St. Louis.
After blowing leads of 2-0 and 3-2, it looked as if the Sharks could have a long flight ahead of them. But the team seemed to wake up after McGinn fought Bickell following a hard hit on Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
McGinn didn’t even see the hit but reacted to the crowd noise and challenged Bickell—his former teammate in juniors—to the fight.
“I didn’t think we had a lot of jump there, so we needed something to spark us,” McGinn said.
On the next shift, Ferriero drove to the front of the net and tipped in a pass from Brad Winchester for his seventh goal of the season. It’s the fifth time Ferriero has scored to give the Sharks the lead, including three in the third period.
“At the end of the game, a lot of goals are scored within five, six feet of the paint,” Ferriero said. “Not a lot of times where you’re going to see very pretty passing plays and stuff like that, so you just got to go in there, get your nose dirty and bang away.”
McGinn added a power-play goal with 5:56 remaining, San Jose’s third tally with the man advantage against Corey Crawford.
Chicago had overcome a lacklustre start to tie the game earlier in the third when Dave Bolland fed Bickell from behind the net to make it 3-3 just over two minutes into the third. But the Blackhawks couldn’t close it out and remained winless on the road since Dec. 14 at Minnesota.
“It’s tough to look at the bright side of things,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. “We played the way we had too, but we gave them too many opportunities on the power play. That’s how they separated us from them in this game.”
Chicago dominated the second period but still trailed after 40 minutes because of an unfortunate bounce. The Sharks were outshot 17-3 in the period but got the go-ahead goal after nearly botching a 2-on-1 chance. Joe Pavelski missed Patrick Marleau on a pass on the odd-man rush but Thornton came up with the puck. His centring pass to Pavelski hit off rookie defenceman Dylan Olsen’s stick and past Crawford to give the Sharks a 3-2 lead with 4:17 left in the second.
Kruger had tied the game with two goals off rebounds earlier in the period, ending a 15-game goal-scoring drought with his first career multi-goal game.
The Sharks got off to a fast start after playing sloppily in losing the previous two games by killing three first-period power plays and converting on two of three chances of their own.
Notes: The Blackhawks were without two starting defenceman as Steve Montador was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury and Niklas Hjalmarsson sat out with an upper-body injury. Olsen was recalled from the AHL and Sami Lepisto played for the first time since Jan. 2. … Two of Braun’s four career goals have come against Chicago. … Sharks F Logan Couture had two assist to extend his point-scoring streak to a career high eight games.