After sleepwalking through a second period that saw them get outshot by the tune of 17-3, San Jose limped into the second intermission barely hanging on to a 3-2 lead. It didn't get any better 2:15 into the third when Dave Bolland found Bryan Bickell in the crease for the tying score-- all of a sudden San Jose, who looked dominant in the first period, was firmly rocking on their heels as the Blackhawks took it to them in all three zones on the ice.
With HP Pavilion restless, something had to happen. There's more than one way to skin a cat of course, but sometimes the claws have to come out.
You can count on McGnyan cat for that.
Following a hit from Bryan Bickell that leveled Marc-Edouard Vlasic along the bench boards, McGinn stepped up to the plate to take out the kitty litter. That fight sparked the Sharks and led to a Benn Ferriero goal twenty seconds later, effectively turning the tides of a game that looked like it was going the other way.
"I just heard a loud noise, didn't even really see the hit. Some guys started to freak out a bit and I knew the crowd didn't like it too much so I kind of went over to see what was going on," McGinn said. "It was kind of weird fighting Bickell because we were teammates when we played for the Ottawa 67's."
Despite the fact that he was trading blows with a friend, McGinn said that he recognized the situation of the game-- one where the Sharks needed a spark to get things going in the right direction.
"Yeah it's in the back of my mind, we didn't have a lot of jump there and I know we needed something to spark us. We responded really well there with Ferriero's goal."
McGinn would add a goal of his own later in the game, taking a feed from Ryane Clowe on the power play. After spinning to his off shoulder in tight amongst traffic, a move that frankly defies every instinct in a human body outside of players like Pavel Datsyuk, McGinn would roof his shot in a split second and beat Crawford to effectively put the game on ice.
It was pawsitivly gorgeous, and a goal that capped off a night when the San Jose Sharks scored three power play goals that proved to be the difference.
"When we discussed the power play when it wasn't going well we were banging our heads against the wall trying to figure it all out. One of the things we did was put the five together that were comfortable and that seemed to click," McLellan said. "The second is that the second unit is pushing the first unit right now, they're able to score goals and look really comfortable."
Raving about McGinn aside, tonight's game from the Sharks was truly a tail (okay, I'm done) of two teams. The power play was purring along (seriously, finished) all night, and finished 3 for 6 with 12 shots. As McLellan stated, that kind of production is exactly what San Jose needed as of late. It's what many expected to see heading into the year and an excellent trend to see them begin to come alive in the second half.
Credit should also go to(3 A) and (1 G, 1 A) for their performance throughout the night. Braun especially has begun to look much better in recent games, giving San Jose a good look on the backend heading into the upcoming nine game road trip.
With all of the positives however, there are still some concerning trends which need to be ironed out in the limited practice time they will have during the rest of February.
Their even strength performance tonight (outshot a massive 30-14) was very lacking, and the second period as a whole was one in which the team was lucky to escape with the lead. It's hard to expect a team to deliver a "60 minute effort" that both fans and the media tend to bandy about, but periods like that are ones that usually end up killing you in these closely contested games. With a flat first period against Calgary still fresh in the mind, improving that overall performance and not counting on a massive swing in momentum to win games will be crucial heading forward.
San Jose's win tonight against a desperate Blackhawks team was a reminder of how good things can be when this team pours it on-- the special teams as a whole continue to trend in the right direction, and big moments from role players are excellent signs to see.
It's just a matter of ironing out the moments of ineptitude (moments that are experienced by every team in the NHL as Chicago's seven game losing streak will attest to) and sticking to the core basics of Sharks hockey on this road trip.
It starts on Sunday against St. Louis.
Let the ride begin.