Blackhawks-Sharks: Chicago Ends the Cali Trip with a Big Win

Craig NuzzoCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2009

What do you do when you're sick on a Saturday night during the college life? Perhaps watch movies, TV, or read a book? 

Well, luckily for me, I got to catch the Chicago Blackhawks (26-13-8) drown the first place San Jose Sharks (36-6-5) on Comcast SportsNet by a score of 4-2.

This was the first win the 'Hawks tallied at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA since Mar. 17, 2003. The Shark Tank was no friend to the 'Hawks in nearly six years.

Jonathan Toews and the 'Hawks were the first to score early at the :48 mark in first period that ended Evgeni Nabokov's franchise record scoreless streak. Andrew Ladd and Brian Campbell provided the assists.

The Sharks answered back by providing a Christian Ehrhoff goal in the first period.

Kris Versteeg saw the ice for the first time tonight since before the All-Star break. Versteeg gave the 'Hawks a go-ahead goal in the second period. Centerman David Bolland was tripped up during a short-handed Blackhawks' break-away.

Versteeg was able to corral the puck and provide the much needed goal for a still Calder Cup contender for Chicago. Also, Rookie Versteeg was placed on the second line tonight as a center. Apparently this was a morale boost that helped him overcome his scoring drought.

The next goal was also scored by No. 19, Jonathan Toews in the second and was his 16th of the season. An incredible Patrick Kane pass allowed Toews to set-up right next to the net in order to execute a brilliant game-winning wrist shot. The Captain has been hot as of late.

The third period brought the final goal for the 'Hawks. Duncan Keith shot a laser beam during a Chicago power play. 

Milan Michalek had the last for the Sharks and for the entire game. The Sharks were able to win a face-off while catching the 'Hawks in a quick change allowed them to pas the puck in Michalek's path. Milan then continued to get off a great back-hand wrister over Nikolai Khabibulin's shoulder.

The Sharks were within two goals again.

Even with a Shark power play and extra attacker, the 'Hawks were able to hold on and beat the Sharks on the road.

Khabibulin made 33 saves for his second straight win.


The Good

Keith has looked good in his return from injury thus far. Besides scoring a goal in tonight's game, Keith showed off some stunning defensive skills. It's great to see that No. 2 back on the ice again; yet another reason he wears that "A" on his chest.


The Okay

The 'Hawks started off the game with horrendous face-off skills by losing 12-of-14 on the dot. However, the 'Hawks were able to improve that category by ending the game with 16 face-off wins. Even Adam Burish saw a face-off win at some point.

The power play was alright tonight. The 'Hawks did have a power play and short-handed goal, but they looked awful in some attempts. Maybe it's the line arrangement or maybe it's bad luck, but this is one category the 'Hawks have not done well as of late.

They must be able to do more on the power play if they want to win in the playoffs this year.


The Bad

Along the lines of power plays comes penalties. The 'Hawks had four penalties, one was a Dustin Byfuglien four minute minor. The 'Hawks have allowed too many penalties in general this year. I hope Coach Joel Quenneville can help that again.

One word: inconsistent. Chicago went from losing to the 12th placed L.A. Kings to beating the first placed S.J. Sharks. What's up with that? Let's hope that doesn't continue.


Three Stars of the Game

No. 19, Jonathan Toews (2 goals)

No. 2, Duncan Keith (1 goal)

No. 32, Kris Versteeg (1 goal, 1 assist)


Craig's Fourth Star of the Game

No. 36, David Bolland who had one assist and went +2 tonight. In my opinion, Bolland should be awarded the center spot on the second line. He has played some impressive hockey.


Next On

The Blackhawks will be heading to Las Vegas to relax and watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 1. 

After their quick break, the Blackhawks will be back on the road towards Edmonton, Alberta, Canada this Tuesday, Feb. 3 to take on the Edmonton Oilers (25-20-3). The Oilers will be no easy contest. This Edmonton hockey team has gone 6-2-0 in the last eight games while standing sixth in the Western Conference standings.

The Blackhawks-Oilers' game will begin at 8:00 PM CT, and be televised on CSN in the Chicagoland area. Coverage will be provided in Canada on PPV.