Niemi says no; Sharks get revenge on Hawks

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Niemi says no; Sharks get revenge on Hawks

Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010
Updated 1:30 AM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

SAN JOSE, Calif. The Chicago Blackhawks found so much success in Vancouver because they played strong with very few mistakes. Errors, especially the opportunistic ones, can be costly.

The San Jose Sharks reminded them of that on Wednesday night.

Blackhawks turnovers led to critical goals, and Antti Niemi got the victory against his former team in a 5-2 Sharks win at HP Pavilion. The Blackhawks are now 2-2-0 on this long road trip, which wraps up with games in Anaheim and Los Angeles over the weekend.

Jake Dowell and Patrick Sharp scored for the Blackhawks. Marty Turco allowed four goals on 28 shots.

The Sharks were doling out the hits from the start on the Blackhawks. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks kept up the tempo and were getting their share of shots on Niemi. The former Blackhawks goaltender stopped 30 of 32.

Maybe during the warmup, seeing the guys on the opposite side, it started to feel like more than just a normal game, Niemi said. I didnt think about it too much, but of course getting a win against them is huge, and on home ice, too. It was great.

Said Brian Campbell, obviously we had some opportunities but we needed to get to the net more. Not to take anything away from him, but he was definitely beatable.

But then the Blackhawks made a few mistakes, and the Sharks pounced on them. Nick Boynton made two costly passes toward the middle that ended up on Sharks sticks and, soon after, in the Blackhawks net. The second, a Joe Pavelski goal, gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead.

He got behind a little on the one, coach Joel Quenneville said. The other ones got to get down the ice. I dont know if we needed to make a play there.

The Sharks physical play also put the Blackhawks on the power play a few times, including twice after boarding calls. But the Blackhawks couldnt muster anything. They also came up empty on a 5-on-3 advantage for 44 seconds in the second period when they were down 3-1.

Yeah we had a couple good looks at it, but we needed to make another play or finish it off, Quenneville said. That was a good opportunity to get ourselves one there. We couldve cashed in there but we didnt.

Jonathan Toews said, We just have to be better on our power play and penalty kill. That makes a huge difference for us against a team like that. We werent good enough in both those areas.

Mistakes proved costly at the end, too. Dowell took a delay-of-game penalty in the third, and Patrick Marleau got around Jassen Cullimore to solidify the Sharks lead at 4-2. Marleau added an empty netter with three seconds remaining.

The Blackhawks were chasing throughout this one as a result of those mistakes. Its not a situation they want to find themselves in often.

I didnt mind our start. We had zone time and were ready to play, Quenneville said. But at the same time, I didnt like having to play from behind all night.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Tomas Jurco ready for 'fresh start' with Blackhawks

Tomas Jurco ready for 'fresh start' with Blackhawks

Tomas Jurco lingered near the end of the Blackhawks' practice on Saturday, watching as fellow Slovak/now-teammate Marian Hossa drew a few things up on the dry-erase board.

Having a few familiar countrymen's faces (Hossa and Richard Panik) in the room helps. But for Jurco, just getting a fresh start is a welcome sight.

Jurco skated on the third line with Marcus Kruger and Hossa, and it looks like he'll make his Blackhawks debut there when the team hosts St. Louis on Sunday night. Jurco spent the last few seasons with the Detroit Red Wings but couldn't find a steady place in the lineup. Now here, he's hoping to change his fortunes.

"I mean, it's been tough couple of years for me in Detroit, so I was talking to [general manager] Ken Holland and we were discussing some options. I wasn't progressing in the last year or so, so I think this is a great time to push my game to another level," Jurco said on Saturday. "Like I said, this is another fresh start for me and I'm very excited for it."

[MORE: Niklas Hjalmarsson out Sunday vs. Blues]

Jurco joins a Blackhawks team that is surging (winning eight of nine) these last few weeks of the season. He and Hossa played together in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, so there's some familiarity as well as friendship there.

General manager Stan Bowman said Friday night that, based on Jurco's skills and the Blackhawks' style of play, Jurco should fit in well.

"I think he's going to get better here," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's going to get a little bit more comfortable with how we have to play, knowing that you want to go right through the puck and you want to pressure. Offensively I think he's got a chance to recapture some confidence. I think he moves well. I like his size. [It's] just getting a little more comfortable with our game and trusting his own instincts right off the bat."

It was time for a change for Jurco. Whether he blossoms like Panik, who came here from the Toronto Maple Leafs last season and is now putting up career numbers as part of the Blackhawks' top line, remains to be seen. It's an opportunity nonetheless, and Jurco is ready to take advantage of it. 

"It was a number of different reasons in Detroit it didn't work out for me. I wasn't playing much, so that's obviously tough. And when you don't play for a few weeks and you play a couple of games, it's very tough," Jurco said. "I'm very happy that I'm here and excited for tomorrow."

Blackhawks' Niklas Hjalmarsson out Sunday vs. Blues

Blackhawks' Niklas Hjalmarsson out Sunday vs. Blues

Niklas Hjalmarsson is day-to-day with an upper-body injury but he will not play on Sunday when the Blackhawks host the St. Louis Blues, coach Joel Quenneville said.

Hjalmarsson left with a little over eight minutes remaining in Thursday night's 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. He missed morning skate that day and, prior to the game, was seen wearing a wrap around his back. Whether or not that is the injury, however, is unknown. Quenneville said the Blackhawks will give Hjalmarsson time to regain full health, especially at this point of the season.

"I think he knows his body and he knows when he can fight through certain things. Giving him enough time to get back to where he's basically 100 percent is what we want," Quenneville said. "That's why he left the game last game. We want to make sure that when he comes back – you know, there's certain things you can fight through, and with him he can go through anything. Let's make sure at this time of the year that he recovers from this."

[RELATED: Nick Schmaltz gaining confidence, effectiveness with Blackhawks]

Quenneville said the Blackhawks will go with the six defensemen they currently have. The last time Hjalmarsson missed a game due to injury was late February/early March of 2012 (six games with an upper-body injury).

"He's a warrior, he gives you everything you want in a big game like tomorrow's. Certainly missed him in the last game," Quenneville said. "We haven't exposed too much not having Hammer out there in important shifts, but it's a good chance for other guys to get critical and important shifts, and hopefully that helps them in their games as well."

Briefly

- Jordin Tootoo also missed practice (illness).

- Corey Crawford will start vs. the Blues.