SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A Chicago Blackhawks team that has struggled to score found some offense Saturday afternoon, with a breakout game from Patrick Sharp underlining a 6-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
The Blackhawks scored four times in the third period to break open a close game, including Sharp's second goal of the contest -- the first in which he'd scored since Jan. 28, a 19-game drought.
Duncan Keith, Brandon Saad, Bryan Bickell and Marian Hossa also scored to spark what had been a relatively dormant attack.
“It was nice to break through offensively,” Sharp said. “A lot of guys had goals or assists tonight. We had a good four-line rotation. It was a good game.”
Corey Crawford continued his hot streak in net, making 33 saves -- including 24 over the first 40 minutes, which ended with the teams tied 2-2. The Sharks owned the pace of play through the first two periods, outshooting Chicago 26-13, including the game's first seven shots.
“They are the fastest-starting team in the league and that first 10 minutes you have to get through it,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the Sharks. “We were fortunate to get one and I thought we got better as the game progressed. But we dodged a bullet. [Crawford] was definitely holding our ground.”
The Blackhawks have seen great goaltending during the past couple of weeks, with the offense lacking. Saturday afternoon found both aspects clicking.
After going five games without a power-play goal, Chicago has two in each of the past two games, including a 2-for-4 effort against San Jose.
“The bounces went our way,” Saad said. “It was good to see some guys get off the horse and have some great performances.”
And while the power play found success for a second straight outing, Quenneville said he was happy to see 5-on-5 play pick up as the game progressed.
“It has been dry. [This was] one of these nights hopefully that can spark some offense across the board and I think going forward that is what we are looking for.”
The Blackhawks had only scored more than three goals once since Feb. 11. And the man they were happiest for in Saturday's explosion was Sharp.
The forward's goalless streak ended early. Sharp got behind San Jose defenseman Justin Braun on a break, and though Antti Niemi made the first save, Sharp was able to lift the rebound over the downed goalie 6 minutes and 3 seconds into the game.
Sharp would add a power-play goal with just under five minutes left in the game, his slap shot from near the blue line glancing off the stick of Barclay Goodrow and fluttering into the net.
“I felt like I was hitting a post every game and not have anything to show for it,” Sharp said. “So it was nice to shoot one there and have it deflect off of one of their guys into the net. That is the game of hockey. Sometimes you get the ones you don’t deserve and vice versa.”
The decisive goal of the game came just 1:21 into the third period with the game tied 2-2. On a breakout pass at center ice, Sharks defenseman Mirco Mueller fell down, allowing Saad to skate in alone and beat Niemi. Up 3-2, the Hawks never looked back.
Three and a half minutes later, Bickell got his from point-blank range on a nice pass from Brad Richards as Chicago caught the Sharks defense napping in front of the net.
Melker Karlsson and Joe Thornton scored for the Sharks; Niemi finished with 24 saves. Hossa ended up with the last goal of the game, an empty-netter to ice what had already turned into an easy win.
Dads trip: Many Blackhawks' fathers were on the two-game road trip and got to see their sons get the sweep. Two wins helped, but everyone seemed to enjoy the experience regardless.
“I had a great three days hanging with my dad,” Sharp said. “I haven’t had that much time with him in a long while. It kind of puts things in perspective when you are going through a tough time individually, to see a guy like my father who fights every day. It kind of puts everything in perspective.”
“It’s great,” Saad added. “I know a lot of the guys enjoy being around the dads. We did a lot of things this trip. It is a great time to give back to them because they do a lot for us. I think everyone enjoyed it.”
Given the 2-0 record, perhaps the dads will be invited on the road again this season.
Game notes: The Blackhawks are now 38-37-5-8 against the Sharks. ... This was the first game for Andrew Desjardins and Ben Smith facing their old teams after they were traded for each other March 2. Neither factored in the scoring. ... Chicago was 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. ... Chicago returns home to host the New York Islanders on Tuesday.