By Michael Duca
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) — Jonathan Toews was 14 years old
the last time the Chicago Blackhawks won in San Jose. Thanks to
the captain, that streak is over.
Toews scored two goals Saturday as the Blackhawks snapped a
13-game losing skid to the San Jose Sharks with a 4-2 victory.
Rookie Kris Versteeg netted a shorthanded tally, defenseman
Duncan Keith tallied on a power play and Nikolai Khabibulin made
32 saves for the Blackhawks, who recorded a win at the “Shark
Tank” for the first time since March 17, 2003.
Blue-liner Christian Ehrhoff and Milan Michalek both scored, Joe
Pavelski had two assists and Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 25
shots for the Sharks, who fell to 23-2-2 at home this season.
The 20-year-old Toews ended Nabokov’s franchise-record shutout
streak just 48 seconds into the game. After Nabokov denied
Andrew Ladd’s shot, Toews tapped in the rebound to stop the
streak at 170 minutes, 58 seconds.
“It was a great start for us,” said defenseman Brent Seabrook,
who was one of only three Blackhawks on the team for the last
win in San Jose. “We came out hard and got one right off the
bat, then we carried it through. We worked hard, collectively,
for 60 minutes.”
Chicago had a goal disallowed with 9:01 left in the first period
when, after a lengthy discussion between the officials, Versteeg
was handed a double-minor for high-sticking before the tally.
“It was an interesting call,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville
said. “We had the same thing the other day, (against the
Rangers) and we were well aware of the rule, and hoping they
would hurry up and drop the puck. They tied it right there and
almost made it 2-1.”
Ehrhoff tied the contest at 1-1 with 7:54 left in the first on a
slap shot from the point beat Khabibulin on the glove side.
With Keith in the penalty box, Ehrhoff fanned on an attempt to
dump the puck, and it went to Dave Bolland for a breakaway.
Bolland was taken down by Ehrhoff, but he was able to get off a
shot, which rebounded back to Versteeg in the slot. The rookie
converted the rebound with a wrist shot at 7:56 of the middle
session for a 2-1 edge.
“I tried to catch the guy,” Ehrhoff said. “I should have
probably kept skating, when I look at it now. I tried to take a
swipe at the puck and I took him down. It probably would have
been a penalty shot, then the second guy came and scored.”
Toews then scored on a man-advantage with 3:45 left in the
second. Toews netted his second of the night from the left
doorstep, lifting one just under the crossbar from a difficult
angle to stretch the lead to 3-1.
“We had some bad luck last time in this building and gave away a
third-period lead,” Toews said. “We were determined not to do
Keith and Michalek exchanged goals late in the third period to
provide the final margin.
“At 4-1 in the third period, not for a second did we think this
game was over,” Patrick Sharp said. “We have great respect for
them and we can take lessons from the way they play – I don’t
think they’ve taken any games off this season.”
Sharks coach Todd McLellan did not mince words in describing how
he saw the game.
“The tempo of the game was in their favor, and the specialty
teams were in their favor,” he said. “They were faster than we
were. I thought we were second to a lot of pucks and spent any
type of energy we did have defending in our end. When we were
on offense, we were tired and looking for a line change.
“We miss Danny (Boyle) on the point on the power play. It’s
evident. That really affects our hockey club, but this is a
scenario we could face three months from now and we’d better be
prepared to adapt and adjust. Other people have to give us more
in those situations.”