Tomas Hertl Return Lifts San Jose Sharks Past Chicago Blackhawks

The three-time Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks visited the Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks Tuesday, Jan. 31. A Tomas Hertl return makes the difference…in more than one way…

Two titans clashed when the Chicago Blackhawks infringed on San Jose Sharks Territory Tuesday, Jan. 31. The game had everything but bad blood to make it thrilling despite a basic formula for a regulation win. It was as simple as a Tomas Hertl return to the ice and his return of one puck.

Tuesday was Hertl’s second game back in San Jose’s lineup following a November knee injury. His backhand of a Brent Burns shot off the back boards won it with just over two minutes left.

Hertl’s presence gives the Joe (Thornton and Pavelski) line the third threat it needs to produce consistently. That also opens things up for other Sharks to find an advantageous line matchup.

The Joes were on the ice for every San Jose goal that counted. Patrick Marleau was on the ice for one that did count and another that did not.

Marleau backhanded a weak-side rebound home at the corner of the net just past the game’s midpoint. Chicago challenged it for offside…add another reason for Shark Nation to hate on Mikkel Boedker.

That would have been Marleau’s 499th goal. The one he scored on the power play 5:56 before the final intermission might have been his 500th sans challenge. He also had a few other good chances at the milestone Corey Crawford turned aside in this goalie battle.

Martin Jones rarely loses such duels for the Sharks. It is why they are poised to defend their Western Conference championship. It is also why they beat the three-time Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks Tuesday.

October 19, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12), center Joe Pavelski (8, center) and center Joe Thornton (19) celebrate after Pavelski scored a goal against the Calgary Flames during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. The Sharks defeated the Flames 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Marleau got closer to 500 goals but took a back seat to a Tomas Hertl return for the San Jose Sharks. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Rebound in Numbers

Chicago rebounded from Marleau’s official score with one of its own before the final intermission. Dennis Rasmussen ripped a shot from the glove-side circle to the far corner past Jones.

However, Marleau and Hertl gave San Jose a rebound from a dismal performance heading into the All-Star break. They also provided a rebound for a top line not producing. Pavelski assisted on both aforementioned scores and added an empty-net goal; Thornton had an assist.

Of course, Burns needed no such rebound but registered two assists. Logan Couture had the other for the Sharks while Richard Panik and Brent Seabrook registered the assists for the Blackhawks.

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Marleau remains red hot, including the first four-goal game of his 20-year career. His next chance to be the 45th player in NHL history with 500 goals comes on the road Thursday.

It will be the first meeting with the Pacific Division-rival Vancouver Canucks. The teams will play five times over 61 days—a 29-game stretch for the Sharks.

The event summary accurately reflects the slight edge San Jose held throughout a game that was won late: 19-27 faceoffs, 16-26 giveaways, 21-6 takeaways, 25-11 hits, 29-25 shots, 64-56 attempts and 21-22 blocks.

The Sharks won the season series two games to one with the victory Tuesday. The home team won all three in regulation.

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