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Sharks 4, Blackhawks 3 (SO): Sharks escape a trap game in Chicago with a thrilling shootout win

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The Sharks evaded the Trap Kings... I mean Blackhawks.

Mar 26, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (right) celebrates his goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at United Center.  David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

This had “trap game” written all over it. The Sharks, winners of seven in a row, began what will be a formidable road trip against St. Louis, Nashville, and Vegas respectively. But they start their four game roadie at the Trap House United Center against the lowly Chicago Blackhawks — that last thing was weird for me to write. This one was bigger than it looked on paper. A big 4-3 shootout victory put them only four points out of first place behind the Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific division, and could create a decent cushion for second place, as well.

The story of this game, as it has been the past month or so, was Martin Jones. Joner is in full playoff mode as he made stop after stop to once again keep this team in it. But more on Jones in a bit.

The Sharks came out like gang busters for the first fifteen minutes of the first period, with the seldom-mentioned Marcus Sorensen opening the scoring.

That play, however, was set up by the scorching hot Jannik Hansen, who has been a fourth-line wing since the injury to Joel Ward, and where Sorensen slotted in with the absence of Eric Fehr. Hansen, who voiced his lack of scoring frustration recently, has arguably been the hottest Shark whose initials aren’t EK over the past six games. Hansen earned his fifth point in six games on the Sorensen goal.

Calder Trophy candidate Alex DeBrincat tied it up on an easy rebound from an initial Jones save at 15:32 in the first for his 26th of the year. A minute and twenty seconds later, Connor Murphy caught Jones sleeping on a shot from the point. That wrapped up the first period with the ‘Hawks up 2-1, and leading the Sharks in shots on goal in the period 11-10.

The second period was a lot of the same. The Sharks moved the puck very well, controlled possession, and made the easy pass rather than trying to set up something two or three passes down the line. This team is far better when they just make the simple play and rely on their skill to set up scoring chances, rather than getting too cute with the puck.

I’ll give you nine guesses who tied it up at 16:39 into the second.

That’s right, Evander Kane. The man with eight goals in 13 games as a Shark did it again, as he turned on the jets during a breakaway, netting his 28th goal of the year.

San Jose created many more chances in the second, out-shooting Chicago 15-11, bringing the total shots on goal for the game up to 25-21 for the boys in teal. The first two periods were a bit of a bore. Though San Jose did possess the puck pretty well, just not a whole lot happened, save for the repeated saves by the one true king, Martin Jones. The man in net has kept this team in so many games this whole month, and this was no exception. While the .903 save percentage for the game doesn’t look great, Jones made tough stop after tough stop, including a ridiculous save on Patrick Kane in overtime.

And this one, also in overtime on this Matzo Ball from Nick Schmaltz.

The third period is where it got interesting for these two teams. Tomas Hertl lit the lamp with less than five minutes in the third period putting the Sharks ahead 3-2 late in the game.

But it should be Barclay Goodrow with the credit for that one, as he set that whole play up. He got absolutely plastered into the boards after getting off the pass to Hertl, which gave him open ice to put it past Anton Forsberg. Unfortunately, at 17:38 with two minutes to go, handsome old man Patrick Sharp tied it for the Blackhawks who were not going to go quietly into the Chicago night.

The overtime period was where things got very exciting. Both teams had chance after chance to end it. Both the ‘Hawks and Sharks were bailed out by their netminders, including the aforementioned save from Jones on Patrick Kane's snipe.

It was unfortunate that this game had to end in a shoot out. It’s unfortunate any game has to end in a shoot out. Thankfully the skills competition ended with a win for the good guys, and a sweet cash deposit off of a very nice move from Kevin Labanc.

This win capped off the Sharks’ eighth in a row, and will give this team a shot in the arm for their upcoming jaunt with St. Louis.