CHICAGO - The Sharks concluded their four-game road trip with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center in Chicago, taking home a much-needed two points after earning only three in the past three games.
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Milan Milchalek led San Jose with two power-play goals in the Sharks eighth straight victory over the Blackhawks. After falling behind early in the first period, Michalek scored at 10:28 of the second and 16:39 of the third to secure the victory.
"We talked about having to work hard 60 minutes and that's what we did today," Michalek said. "We had all the chances and finally scored the second goal."
Although the Sharks ended on a great note, it was Chicago that had the dream beginning.
Blackhawks rookie Jonathan Toews scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot in his first NHL game to give Chicago an early 1-0 lead. Thirteen minutes into the initial period, Brent Seabrook passed the puck up-ice to Toews who was streaking in from the right. Toews corralled the puck and tipped it past defenseman Matt Carle before shooting it top-shelf above Evgeni Nabokov's outstretched glove.
Before Toews stole the spotlight, most of the game's offense revolved around the Sharks. After promoting Ryane Clowe to San Jose's first line and moving Patrick Marleau from right wing to center, the Sharks forwards came out possessed. San Jose out-shot Chicago 13-5 in the first, and had legitimate opportunities when Torrey Mitchell used a toe-drag to get past his defenseman for his first shot of the game and Michalek nearly converted on a two-on-one with Marleau.
Rob Davison, who was getting his first start of the season, made his presence known when he executed a perfectly-placed hip check on Adam Burish in front of the Sharks bench. Following the hit, Blackhawks right wing Martin Lapointe rushed Davison and both players dropped the gloves. Following the altercation, fighting majors were handed out to each.
The period would end with Chicago leading San Jose 1-0.
The Sharks would even things up in the second period on a Michalek's first power-play goal of the night. Thirty-seven seconds into Toews hooking penalty, Michalek and Marleau exchanged a give-and-go pass before Michalek shot it between the pads of Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
With 90 seconds left in the second, former Blackhawk Jeremy Roenick stood his ground on a neutral-zone forecheck and picked off a pass by Magnus Johansson. After having his initial shot blocked, Roenick picked up the rebound for a second attempt that bounced behind Khabibulin and across the open goal mouth.
The Sharks nearly scored again when Clowe made a nice forecheck on the Blackhawks blue line one minute later. After Clowe poked the puck away from Brent Seabrook, Joe Thornton picked it up and sent a pass through the crease that was narrowly missed by Jonathan Cheechoo.
"We had our chances," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "I think tonight was the best game I've ever seen Khabibulin play against us."It was getting a little frustrating, but it didn't affect our play," Wilson added. "We have to use our speed and particularly our size. Tonight, the way we were skating and playing, any team will have trouble down low against us."
After failing to convert on a double minor early in the third, San Jose would take the lead on their third power play attempt of the period. With 3:31 remaining in the game, Michalek broke the tie by deflecting Matt Carle's shot from the blue line. That gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead that they refused to relinquish.
The Blackhawks pulled Khabibulin with 1:30 remaining, but were fruitless in their search for the tying goal.
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San Jose will take on the Boston Bruins in their first regular season home game on Saturday, October 13 at HP Pavilion. Prior to the game, the Sharks will host a Street Rally on Autumn and West Santa Clara Street.