SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Tomas Hertl‘s long wait between goals ended and Patrick Marleau closed in on a major milestone for the San Jose Sharks.
Hertl’s first goal in more than three months broke a tie with 2:03 remaining in regulation after Marleau scored his 499th career goal, helping the Sharks win for the seventh time in eight games, 3-1 over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
After missing 32 games with a knee injury, Hertl got his first goal since Oct. 27 in his second game back in the lineup when he knocked in the rebound of Brent Burns‘ shot to give San Jose the win in the first game back from the All-Star break.
“I should have buried a couple goals before,” Hertl said. “But I’m happy I scored because it was a long time, like three months. It was a big celly for me.”
Joe Pavelski added an empty-netter to cap a night that nearly included a milestone for Marleau. He had an apparent goal wiped off by an offside call on replay before scoring No. 499 in the second period. That gave Marleau six goals in the past four games as he surges toward becoming the 45th player to reach 500.
“It always feels good when you score and win, so it’s good,” Marleau said. “Hopefully I won’t have too long.”
Read more: A ‘special player’ — Marleau’s latest goal gives Sharks sixth straight win
Martin Jones made 24 saves as the Sharks matched last season’s home win total of 18 games.
Dennis Rasmussen scored and Corey Crawford made 26 saves for the Blackhawks, who have lost three straight games. Chicago led going into the third period in losses to Tampa Bay and Winnipeg before the break before giving up the late tiebreaking goal to the Sharks.
“We had two minutes to go there, we just wanted to make sure we could get it to overtime and look for the extra point,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Three games in a row we’ve given up some points. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
After a slow start to the game with few chances for the first 30 minutes, the action picked up in the last half of the second period. It started when Marleau appeared to score when he took the rebound of Logan Couture‘s missed shot off the back boards and tucked it in for a goal. But the Blackhawks challenged the play, believing Mikkel Boedker was offside on the entry, and replay wiped the goal off the board.
Just a few minutes later with Artem Anisimov in the box for holding, Marleau did get No. 499 when he beat Crawford with a shot from the circle for his 18th goal of the season.
“Patty’s been excellent,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “Best hockey I’ve seen him play since I’ve been here. He’s just got to keep going.”
The Sharks had a chance to add on to the lead, but Crawford stopped Timo Meier on a breakaway. Chicago then got the equalizer when Rasmussen beat Jones with a shot off the inside of the post from the top of the circle on a rush.
But that was all the Blackhawks would get.
“I thought it was better than the last two or three games,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “We did a lot of good things. It’s just a tough way to lose in the last couple of minutes.”