Sharks take bite out of Chicago Blackhawks in home opener
If they said it once, the Chicago Blackhawks said it 1,000 times before they hosted the San Jose Sharks on Thursday: They must play better at home.
Well, before that can happen, the Hawks must figure out how to be better on the penalty kill because another atrocious performance by that unit is a big reason they lost 5-4 to the previously winless Sharks.
San Jose, which fell behind 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3, notched a pair of power-play goals in the first period and prevailed when Barclay Goodrow scored 4:47 into the third period.
"Nothing complicated," defenseman Duncan Keith said concerning the penalty kill, which is just 3-for-6 in two games. "Just shot and it's a tip or a screen or a rebound, and they've got guys there. So (they were) outmanning us.
"Stay out of the box. They've got a good power play."
The Hawks got goals from Andrew Shaw (2), Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome in the first 32 minutes and 14 seconds. But the Sharks (1-4-0) were relentless, firing 64 shot attempts (34 on net) and doubling their season goal output in the process.
"They did a good job in … getting pucks into the blue paint and finding those rebounds and getting their sticks on pucks," said Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton. "That's what they do. They are very good at it; they've been good at it for a long time."
The Hawks finished last in the NHL last season with a ghastly 72.7 percent kill rate, so general manager Stan Bowman acquired players he believed could help fix the problem.
But it has not helped. Not yet, anyway.
The Sharks' first goal came just nine seconds into their first power play when Kevin Lebanc scored from a seemingly impossible angle along the goal line. Lebanc ended up with the puck after Evander Kane's shot clanked off the post.
The Hawks initially did a good job on the Sharks' second PP, but Timo Meier found a seam and split the defense of Zack Smith and David Kampf to gain entry into the offensive zone. Dylan Gambrell came in to support down the right side and he sent it back to Patrick Marleau just inside the blue line.
Marleau's missile tied the game at 2-2 with just 17 seconds remaining in the second period.
"(We've got to) find a way to get the job done," Keith said. "That's all it is. One 15-second segment at a time and just chip away and get it done. Obviously, those are a couple tough goals to give up."
Colliton expects his team to respond the right way against Winnipeg on Saturday, but he also issued an eye-opening statement concerning the Hawks' inability to play a complete game.
"I just think we haven't quite decided we're willing to do the right thing all the time every shift for 60 minutes," Colliton said. "That's what the teams that have success do. …
"We're going to make mistakes, but the mistakes we make should be when we still have the right intention to do the right thing. I don't think we did all the time tonight. We've got to bear down on those situations where the game's on the line."