Blackhawks use big 1st period to beat Sharks, end home losing skid
CHICAGO — Trevor van Riemsdyk planned to give the puck to his dad. For Sunday night at least, the goal belonged to him.
Van Riemsdyk and fellow defensemen Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson scored in the first period, leading the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
There was some question whether van Riemsdyk’s first goal should have been awarded to Kris Versteeg, who was part of a scrum in front of San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi.
“I shot it and didn’t even know if it was mine or not. I hit something kinda halfway through and saw a bunch of our guys in front,” van Riemsdyk said. “I thought it might have gone off one of them and found out it was mine. It was pretty special.”
Bryan Bickell added a big goal in the third as the Blackhawks stopped a three-game home losing streak. Corey Crawford made 32 saves, including a nice stop on Patrick Marleau with Chicago nursing a one-goal lead with 7:30 left.
Joe Pavelski had two goals for San Jose, which was coming off a 5-3 victory at Dallas on Saturday night. The Sharks’ seven-game road trip continues on Tuesday night at Florida.
“We didn’t play well in the first period. We didn’t do anything right and fell behind 3-0,” defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. “It’s tough to come back against a team like that.”
The Sharks trailed 3-2 after two periods and had a chance to tie the game when David Rundblad was sent off for holding at 9:06 of the third. But the Blackhawks killed off the penalty, and Bickell put it away with his second goal of the season with 3:42 remaining.
Jonathan Toews added an empty-netter with 1:57 left. The captain also had an assist on van Riemsdyk’s goal.
“They’re a good hockey team, but I thought we settled down in the third and after that kill there I thought we were much better,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
Niemi finished with 32 stops for San Jose.
Chicago’s scoring spree in the first started when Toews sent a faceoff back to van Riemsdyk, who blasted a slap shot by a screened Niemi 8 minutes into the game.
Seabrook extended the lead to 2-0 at 14:10 when he scored on a one-timer off a pass from Brad Richards. With the sellout crowd of 21,489 still celebrating Seabrook’s third goal, Hjalmarsson used a nicely placed wrist shot to record his first goal of the season at 14:34.
It was the first time three defensemen scored in a single period for Chicago since Frantisek Kucera, Igor Kravchuk and Steve Smith scored in the third period of an 8-1 victory over Edmonton on Nov. 27, 1992.
“I saw a team that wasn’t prepared to compete, lacked catalysts, guys that were going to settle the game down and make us play the right way and, as a result, we’re down by three,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “We adjust and talk about it between the first and second, then we start to play the way you have to play against that team to win, but I was really disappointed in our group in the first period.”
The fast start also came with Quenneville trying a couple of new defensive pairings. The 23-year-old van Riemsdyk played with two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith, and Seabrook, who struggled in Friday night’s 3-2 loss to Washington, was alongside Rundblad.
San Jose bounced back quickly after Hjalmarsson’s goal. Pavelski had a nice redirection on Justin Braun’s slap shot, trimming Chicago’s lead to 3-1 at 15:32, and the Sharks outplayed the Blackhawks for much of the second period.
San Jose center Joe Thornton was shaken up after Andrew Shaw hit him on his nose with his stick in the second period. But Thornton got his revenge after Shaw was sent off for high sticking, making a nice pass through the crease to set up Pavelski’s seventh goal of the season at 4:51.
NOTES: F Daniel Carcillo (lower body) is skating on his own and could return during the Blackhawks’ six-game road trip from Nov. 20-29. He was injured in the third period of Chicago’s 3-2 loss at St. Louis on Oct. 25. … San Jose scratched Fs John Scott and Tye McGinn and D Matt Irwin. … Carcillo, F Patrick Sharp (lower body) and D Michal Rozsival were the scratches for Chicago. … James van Riemsdyk, Trevor’s brother, also scored Saturday night in Toronto’s 5-3 victory at Ottawa.
*Photo courtesy of Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images