Niemi, Marleau lead Sharks past Chicago 5-2

San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE
– Shaking off a 3-0 loss to Columbus four nights ago, the San
Jose Sharks turned back the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 Wednesday at HP
Pavilion to join Chicago in eighth place in the Western Conference
with 24 points.
SAN JOSE – Shaking off a 3-0 loss to Columbus four nights ago, the San Jose Sharks turned back the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 Wednesday at HP Pavilion to join Chicago in eighth place in the Western Conference with 24 points.

Goaltender Antti Niemi, facing his former teammates for the first time, made 30 saves as he improved to 3-4-1 this year in his 50th career appearance in an NHL game.

The Sharks (10-6-4) visit Vancouver Friday and Edmonton Saturday before returning to HP Pavilion for a game against the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night.

San Jose brought a 3-1 lead and 1:55 of power play time into the third period.

The Blackhawks killed off that penalty, then netted a goal at 3:58 of the third to make it 3-2. Hawk defenseman Nick Boyton broke free for a hard shot from the right point. Patrick Sharp, positioned inside the right circle, redirected the puck with his stick blade for his team-pacing 13th goal of the season.

Patrick Marleau scored a pair of special-team goals to complete the scoring.

Chicago’s Jack Dowell went to the penalty box for two minutes at the 12:51 mark for hitting the puck over the glass to delay the game. Thornton’s unit did not start the power play, but when Logan Couture sent the puck to Thornton as he began a shift, the captain skated in the neutral zone awaiting his fresh teammates. Thornton saw a streaking Marleau headed toward the Hawk zone. Marleau accepted the puck in stride, sped around defenseman Jassen Cullimore and wristed a shot in the top left corner of the net for his ninth goal of the season.

Marleau’s total reached 10 with 2.7 seconds left when he motored around defenseman Brian Campbell and pushed the puck into the empty net.

Dany Heatley, who spent time on both the Marleau and Thornton lines in the first period, took advantage of a Devin Setoguchi steal to score the game’s first goal at the 13:24 mark.

Setoguchi’s theft in the high slot in Chicago territory led to a pass to Thornton. The captain circled the net with the puck before finding Heatley in the low slot for a one-timer inside the left post for Heatley’s eighth goal of the season.

San Jose took a brief two-goal lead on Jamal Mayers’ first goal as a Shark at 2:37 of the second period.

Scott Nichol kept control of the puck in the corner of the Chicago zone before allowing John McCarthy to move the puck toward the net. McCarthy’s short pass to Mayers 10 feet outside the crease turned into a 2-0 cushion when Mayers jammed a shot past goalie Marty Turco.

Chicago needed 31 seconds to come up with a goal. Winger Troy Brouwer passed the puck to Dowell in the low slot in the San Jose zone. Nearing the crease, Dowell’s skate sent the puck toward the left post. The puck caromed off Hawk Jack Skille’s skate and inside the left post for the goal.

San Jose finished the scoring for the second period when Joe Pavelski scored on a power-play goal at 4:38.

Chicago’s Dave Bolland was whistled for cross-checking Nichol at the four-minute mark. Hawk Nick Boynton stole the puck in the Chicago end, but his attempt to clear the zone with a hard blast was intercepted by Pavelski in the high slot. Pavelski quickly whipped a shot toward the Hawk goal, the puck glancing off the side of Hawk Duncan Keith and past Turco.

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