SAN JOSE, Calif. — The biennial Blackhawks fathers’ trip is supposed to be about the dads, a chance for them to get an inside look at the lives their famous sons lead on the road. But the players get plenty out of it, too. Perhaps no one more than Patrick Sharp did these last four days.
On the ice, Sharp had been mired in a 19-game goal drought. Off the ice, he had been dealing with damaging and disturbing rumors about his personal life, which he called “off-ice BS” in a first-intermission interview with WGN’s Steve Konroyd on Saturday.
But with his dad, Ian, in attendance at the SAP Center on Saturday, Sharp scored twice in a 6-2 rout of the San Jose Sharks.
“I had a great three days hanging with my dad,” Sharp said afterward. “I haven’t had that much time with him in a long while. It kind of puts things in perspective. Going through a tough time individually, whatever the case may be, to see a guy like my father, who fights every day and who’s an inspiration for me, it kind of puts everything in perspective and makes me feel like it’s a little easier to play the game.”
Brandon Saad, one of the Hawks’ few consistent scorers, had the go-ahead goal early in the third period in this one, helping to turn a tight game into a blowout. But far more encouraging were all the other guys who suddenly are finding the back of the net.
In a five-period span dating back to Thursday’s win at Arizona, Andrew Shaw, Brad Richards, Sharp and Duncan Keith all ended goal droughts of at least 18 games. On Saturday, it was Sharp scoring his first goal in 20 games (then adding a second late in the game), and Keith scoring his first goal in 19. Bryan Bickell got in on the action, too, scoring an insurance goal in the third period after tallying just two goals in his previous 23 games.Antoine Vermette and Brent Seabrook added two assists each.
After scoring just one 5-on-5 goal in their last three games, the Hawks got three against San Jose. And somehow, despite all the offensive scuffling, the Hawks are 6-1-1 dating back to the Feb. 24 game in which Patrick Kane was injured, and (for the time being, at least) moved within three points of the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators for first place in the Central Division.
“It’s big,” Saad said. “You can’t replace a guy like that, but for guys to step up and make big plays and win games, that’s what we need to do.”
Corey Crawford has played a big role in that, obviously, and he was solid again. After the Hawks weathered an early storm against the desperate Sharks, who are clinging to the fringe of the Western Conference playoff picture, Crawford finished with 33 saves. He’s 5-0-1 in his last six starts, with his one loss a 1-0 overtime defeat to the New York Rangers.
“Crow has been solid as you could ever want,” Joel Quenneville said.
At least this time, he got plenty of help. Sharp got the Hawks on the board first at 6:03 of the first period, charging hard to the net and cleaning up his own rebound, lifting the puck over a sprawled-out Antti Niemi for his first goal since Jan. 28.
The Sharks actually outshot the Hawks 26-13 through two periods, holding them to a mere four shots in the second period. Yet through two, it was tied 2-2. Melker Karlsson had tied it 1-1 late in the first, before Keith scored on a second-period power play to make it 2-1. Joe Thornton’s shot on the power play was inadvertently redirected past Crawford by Seabrook to tie it less than four minutes later.
But the Hawks put away the Sharks in the third period. First, Saad corralled a Teuvo Teravainen flip as San Jose’s Mirco Mueller fell to the ice, then beat Antti Niemi for a 3-2 lead. Then Richards found Bickell with a strong centering pass for a 4-2 lead a few minutes later. Sharp scored on a power play — the Hawks’ fourth power-play goal in two games — at 15:10 of the third period, before Marian Hossa tapped in an empty-netter to ice it.
Sharp’s power-play goal deflected in off a Sharks stick — a fitting finish to a fitful few weeks, as the Hawks swept a parents’ trip for the first time in five tries.
“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 and in the net. That’s the game of hockey. Sometimes you get the ones that you don’t deserve, and vice versa. But it doesn’t really matter who’s scoring. We got two big wins with the dads this weekend and it was a fun time.”