SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)Patrick Marleau celebrated a milestone night with a much-needed goal that built confidence for the slumping San Jose Sharks.
Marleau scored while playing in his 800th consecutive game, and the Sharks snapped a five-game losing streak Tuesday with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
San Jose had been outscored 22-8 during the skid and failed to earn a point or hold a lead at any point during a stretch that left last season’s Western Conference runners-up near the bottom of the standings.
”It feels good to get that first one and we were able to build off that,” Marleau said. ”It’s nice playing with the lead.”
Marleau gave San Jose its first lead in six games shortly after the Blackhawks had killed off a penalty early in the second period. Timo Meier sent a shot from the slot toward the net and it deflected off Marleau’s skate and past Robin Lehner.
It was Marleau’s third goal of the season, with all three coming against Chicago. Longtime teammate Joe Thornton got the second assist, his first on a score by Marleau since the 2017 playoffs. Thornton has assisted on 122 of Marleau’s 554 career goals.
”That’s always special,” Marleau said. ”It’s always a big moment. There probably should be a lot more assists from him the way he sets people up. It was good to get that one tonight.”
Marleau signed with Toronto in the summer of 2017 before returning to his original team early this season in time to score twice in a win at Chicago on Oct. 10.
Evander Kane added a short-handed goal later in the second when he won a race to a loose puck against Dominik Kubalik and beat Lehner to the short side for his ninth of the season.
Tomas Hertl and Meier also scored for the Sharks. Martin Jones made 19 saves, including one against Kubalik on a breakaway early in the third period.
”I thought we did a good job defending,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. ”They put a little bit of pressure on, but I thought defensively we worked really hard at it and in the offensive zone we were harder, too. We spent more time down there and held on to more pucks. That hardness and heaviness has to be a part of our game every night.”
The Blackhawks looked flat most of the night in the finale of a four-game road trip, getting outshot 23-3 at one point. But they got late goals from Brandon Saad and Duncan Keith to make it a one-goal game with 1:54 to play.
”This is how it’s been going for us all year,” forward Patrick Kane said. ”It seems we take one step forward and two steps back almost every game. If we don’t put ourselves behind the 8-ball we can be a team that wins games. We need to make better decisions on the ice.”
Meier sealed it with an empty-netter.
Lehner made 28 saves.
NOTES: The only player to score more goals off assists from Thornton is Joe Pavelski with 127, according to NBC Sports California. … San Jose D Radim Simek returned to the lineup for the first time since injuring his knee last March 12. … Sharks forward Melker Karlsson missed the game with an upper-body injury. … Chicago went 1-2-1 on the trip.
Blackhawks: Host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
Sharks: Host the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports