The Hawks recorded a season-high five goals while chasing their former hero, Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi, to a chorus of sarcastic cheers.
“It dictated the outcome of the game,” Jonathan Toews said. “Especially when they made it 5-3 and we came right back and got that sixth goal.”
Two goals came via the power play, three during even strength. All had some star quality to them. Marian Hossa scored twice and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane once, while noted sniper Patrick Sharp had four assists.
“I know my strengths, that’s shooting the puck,” Sharp joked. “It would be nice if Patrick and Jonathan mixed in an assist one of these days.”
While the numbers on offense were gaudy, it was hard work that turned the momentum.
“For whatever reason in the first period we weren’t on the same page,” Hossa said. “All of a sudden we started working as a team. We were supporting each other, we were outbattling them.”
It showed up in the boxscore in the form of three lazy penalties taken by the Sharks. The Hawks scored on two of them.
“More speed, I thought, we were fighting for space,” Joel Quenneville explained of the second period. “Couple of those [penalties] were a result of moving our feet.”
If you turned off the game after one period you would have been shocked by the final result. The Hawks trailed 2-1 after one, taking two penalties in the opening minutes and allowing a 5-on-3 score. But it all changed in the middle 20 minutes.
“I thought we gathered ourselves pretty quickly after that start there,” Quenneville said. “Great second period. Huge for us. We did a lot of good things. Power play was rolling as well.”
The Hawks beat one of the hottest teams in the league and beat them bad, thanks to that second period.
“If I was going to sum up the game: They skated, we glided,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “They were hard on the boards, we were soft. They were determined at the net, we played ‘I hope’ around the net.
“We were looking for a win the easy way, and there’s 30 teams in the league right now that know that doesn’t work. I don’t know why we chose that route tonight, but it’s not the recipe we’ve been following for success. It was a complete team meltdown, and every position was included in it.”
San Jose was 18-3-3 in their last 24 games coming into the night and in none of those six losses had they lost a game by more than a single goal. It further highlights the domination of the Hawks on Monday and once again sends notice to the Western Conference: when the Hawks turn it on, they can play with anyone in the NHL.