Arnason got his first hat trick for Chicago, but fellow rookie
Cheechoo scored with 9:50 left as the San Jose Sharks tied the
Blackhawks 3-3 Saturday night.
After scoring twice in the first period, Arnason wrapped up his
first three-goal game in the NHL with an aggressive move to the net
for a power-play goal just 3 ½ minutes into the second.
"It felt great, but I hoped it wasn't too early in the game,"
Arnason said. "I knew this was an up-and-down game, so I was
hoping it would be enough to stand up. It wasn't, but I'm still
The Blackhawks couldn't score again, and Cheechoo tied it midway
through the third period when he turned the corner on Phil Housley
and fired a shot past Jocelyn Thibault. Cheechoo's rookie season
hasn't been nearly as good as Arnason's campaign, but he felt just
as good about his contribution from the fourth line.
"Any time you can help the team from my position, it's really
good," Cheechoo said. "Me and Mark Smith had very good games, and
also Niklas Sundstrom broke out of a scoring slump, so everybody
seems to be coming around. Everybody is chipping in here and
Sundstrom scored his first goal in 54 games for the Sharks, who
are unbeaten in four straight home games early in an eight-game
homestand. Mike Ricci also scored, and Mark Smith had two assists
as San Jose rallied from two one-goal deficits.
"We had an outstanding third period and missed some golden
opportunities, but we still got a point," Sharks coach Ron Wilson
said. "I'm not displeased."
Patrick Marleau missed an open net for San Jose with 90 seconds
left in overtime, leading to the Sharks' fourth tie of the season.
Arnason's linemates, Eric Daze and Steve Sullivan, had two
assists apiece as Chicago stretched its unbeaten streak to five
games in the opener of a four-game trip. The veteran wingers are
just as impressed as everyone else by their rookie center.
"(Daze) told him after the first period, 'These nights don't
happen very often. Take advantage of it,'" Sullivan said. "Sure
enough, he kept driving to the net and got that third one. He isn't
as fast as (Daze) and I, but if he gets in positions where we're
going to get him the puck, he's going to get a lot of goals."
Though he played 21 games with Chicago last season, the
23-year-old Arnason is considered a rookie -- and a frontrunner in
the Calder Trophy race one year after winning the AHL's rookie of
the year award. He had gone seven straight games without a goal
before scorching the Sharks.
Evgeni Nabokov made 32 saves in another strong outing for San
Jose while playing for the 20th time in 21 games. The Sharks are
6-3-2-1 since Darryl Sutter was fired on Dec. 1, but they haven't
made up much ground in the Western Conference race.
Sundstrom redirected Scott Hannan's pass midway through the
first period for his first goal since last Feb. 8 _ also in a home
game against Chicago. Sundstrom snapped an 11-game scoreless
Ricci ended a seven-game scoreless streak and put the Sharks up
2-1 late in the wide-open first period when he chopped at a long
rebound off Thibault's blocker and improbably buried it in the far
right corner of the net.
"All skill," Ricci said with a grin. "Everyone has to chip
in. We can't rely on the same people to save us every night. We're
too far down in the standings to take a night off."
Thibault made 24 saves. ... Mark Bell pounded San Jose
captain Owen Nolan in a fight late in the second period. ...
Chicago D Jon Klemm, whose left index finger was broken by a puck
last week, didn't make the trip. The Blackhawks hope he'll return
next weekend, when they play at Nashville on Saturday and at home
against Detroit on Sunday, Jan. 5. ... Cheechoo and Smith both had
their first career multipoint games. ... Sutter wasn't unemployed
for long. He was hired Saturday by Calgary, and several Sharks
wished him well after the game.