SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Chicago Blackhawks used a two-game trip with their dads in tow to end quite a few scoring droughts.
Patrick Sharp scored his first two goals since January and Duncan Keith also got his first in more than a month to help the Chicago Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks 6-2 on Saturday.
"It seemed like I was hitting a post every game and not having anything to show for it," Sharp said. "It was nice to shoot one there and have it deflect off one of their guys into the net. That’s the game of hockey. Sometimes you get the ones that you don’t deserve and vice versa. It doesn’t really matter who’s scoring."
Sharp and Keith ended their slumps one game after Brad Richards and Andrew Shaw got their first goals since January in a 2-1 win at Arizona. Chicago, playing without star forward Patrick Kane, has won six of eight games to move within striking distance of Nashville and St. Louis for the Central Division lead.
The Blackhawks were three points behind the division leaders heading into Saturday night’s games.
"Across the board, we’re not looking to outscore anybody," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We’re thinking checking. We won some tight ones. We’re pleased with what transpired for sure on this road trip."
Brandon Saad broke a tie with a third-period goal, and Bryan Bickell and Marian Hossa also scored for Chicago. Corey Crawford made 33 saves.
Melker Karlsson and Joe Thornton scored for the Sharks, who began the day three points behind Los Angeles for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Antti Niemi made 24 saves.
"We played good for 40 odd minutes and that’s just not good enough," Thornton said.
A close game turned to Chicago’s favour in the opening 5 minutes of the third period. It started when Teuvo Teravainen flipped a puck into the neutral zone. Sharks defenceman Mirco Mueller tripped while trying to play the puck and that sent Saad in alone on Niemi for his 21st goal of the season.
"It was a tight checking game the first two periods and then the bounces went our way," Saad said.
Just a few minutes later, Richards set up Bickell all alone in the slot to put Chicago up 4-2.
Sharp, who had not scored in 19 games since Jan. 28, added a late power-play goal that deflected off defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Hossa had an empty-netter.
San Jose now heads off on a seven-game road trip hoping to fight its way back into playoff position. It’s a tense time around the Sharks, who are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 season and have had to deal with a public spat between Thornton and general manager Doug Wilson.
After the San Jose Mercury News reported Thursday night that Wilson told season-ticket holders that the reason Thornton was stripped of the captaincy last summer was because he "lashes out" at teammates when under stress, Thornton said Friday that Wilson needs to "shut his mouth" and "stop lying."
"It’s business as usual," coach Todd McLellan said. "You guys know where we are in the standings, we know where we are in standings. It’s about playing hockey and winning. That stuff doesn’t matter, we got to focus."
The teams traded power-play goals in the second. Keith ended his 18-game drought since Jan. 30 with a blast from the top of the circle to give Chicago the lead.
Later in the period, Thornton’s shot deflected off Brent Seabrook’s skate and past Crawford for the equalizer.
The Sharks dominated play early, getting nine of the first 10 shots on goal and could have been leading except for strong play from Crawford and a disallowed goal when Pavelski was ruled to have interfered with Crawford.
But the Blackhawks struck first when Sharp scored on his own rebound to end a 19-game goal drought since Jan. 28.
San Jose got the equalizer when Karlsson knocked in the rebound of Matt Irwin’s shot for his 12th goal.
NOTES: Chicago F Joakim Nordstrom served the first game of a two-game suspension for a hit on Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Thursday. Former Sharks F Andrew Desjardins took his place in the lineup. … Sharks D Matt Irwin returned to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury.