CHICAGO – The result of Tuesday night’s Sharks game in Chicago would either leave San Jose feeling pretty good about its demanding four-game road trip, or dejected over losing three of four and dropping in the standings.
Patrick Marleau’s second period goal and 33 saves from Martin Jones helped the Sharks a 2-0 win at United Center, evening their record to 2-2 on a difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break. They maintained second place in the Pacific Division ahead of Anaheim, which is one point behind and won earlier in the night.
Jones recorded his fifth shutout.
Marleau’s goal came on the power play, when his blast from high in the zone deflected off of Jonathan Towes and the inside of the post before crossing the line at 9:09.
That broke a string of 16 straight games without a goal into a manned net for the veteran forward, who has 16 goals on the season.
Chicago made a significant push over the latter half of the middle frame, recording nine of the final 12 shots on goal before the break. Marian Hossa had a couple chances including in front of the net on a dish from Jonathan Toews with 1:09 to go, but he couldn’t squeeze it through Jones.
The Sharks nearly increased their lead late in the second, but Chris Tierney couldn’t finish off an odd-man rush after the puck bounced over his stick. Tierney later took a minor for tripping Patrick Kane at 19:38.
The ensuing power play time carried over to start the third, but Jones denied Kane on a blistering slap shot and Brent Burns got in front of a Brent Seabrook one-timer to keep San Jose’s lead intact.
Joe Thornton’s empty net goal capped the scoring with 1:42 to go in the third.
Chicago, opening up a four-game homestand, saw it’s three-game winning streak and seven-game home winning streak come to an end.
Chicago seemingly got on the board first in the opening period, when a wraparound try by Jiri Sekac rattled around and deflected into the San Jose net off of Brandon Mashinter. The Sharks challenged the goal, through, and it was overturned due to Dennis Rasmussen interfering with Jones at 17:23.
Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon left the game about five minutes into the first period and did not return for reasons that weren’t immediately clear. San Jose has dressed the same six defensemen for 25 straight games.
Chicago won the first two games of the season series, which has now concluded. The Blackhawks are 12-2-2 against the Pacific Division, while San Jose improved to 7-7-1 versus the Central.
The Sharks won for just the second time in their last 10 visits to United Center (2-7-1).
The Sharks last three goals have come on the power play, including both on Saturday in Nashville. They converted on their only opportunity against the Blackhawks, and are 10-for-35 over the last 11 games (28.5 percent).
Chicago finished 0-for-3 on the power play. The Sharks went 11-for-11 on the PK on the four-game road trip.
Jones started all four games on the road trip, and eight in a row overall. He won for the first time against the Blackhawks (1-2-1).
Corey Crawford was in net for Chicago’s first two wins over San Jose earlier this season, but took the hard-luck loss with just one goal allowed on 26 shots.
Chicago was without the NHL’s leading rookie scorer Artemi Panarin, who was sick. The 24-year-old started the night seven in the NHL with 52 points.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic increased his point/assist streak to five games, with a helped on Thornton’s empty-netter.
The Sharks have a brief two-game homestand, starting with the Flames on Thursday. San Jose has won two of three against Calgary, which surprisingly scratched forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Lance Bouma and Sean Monahan on Tuesday night in Toronto.