SAN JOSE -- Sharks coach Todd McLellan was steaming after losing a player to a refereeing error. That, he felt, had a lot to do with San Jose losing 5-3 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
"It was a terrible call," McLellan said. "I don't know if we were going to be able to come back or not, but at that point we were still in the game. We had every opportunity to win. We should have been on a four-minute power play."
San Jose fourth-line left wing Andrew Desjardins caught Chicago's Jamal Mayers with his head down just inside the Blackhawks blue line and connected with a shoulder-to-shoulder check. Mayers went down hard, triggering Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith to instigate a fight with Desjardins at 8:48 of the second period.
Desjardins was given a match penalty for a hit to the head and was kicked out of the game, a call that was rescinded by the officials after the game. McLellan said the only penalty should have gone against Chicago for retaliating against a legal hit.
"It was a good hockey play," he said. "Jamal Mayers is a great human being, he spent a year here and no one wants to see him get hurt, but that was a real good hockey hit."
Mayers wasn't apologizing for any bad call. He felt the penalty fit the crime.
"It's unfortunate it happened. We're trying to get that out of our game," Mayers said of that type of hit. "We got a power play out of it and we won. That's the important thing."
The game was tied 3-3 at the time Desjardins was ejected. The Sharks (7-2-1) surrendered the go-ahead goal three minutes later and were forced to go with a shortened bench for the remainder of the game one night after having played in Anaheim while the Blackhawks (8-0-2) were idle. It was of little consolation that McLellan was proven right.
"By the time I got out between the second and third (periods), they admitted it was an error," the coach said. "We're a team that's played a lot of hockey, needed that player, and we should have been on the power play for four minutes."
On the tiebreaking goal, Chicago captain Jonathan Toews lifted the stick of Douglas Murray and stole the puck from the defenseman right in front of the San Jose goal. Toews fed Patrick Kane, who filled the half-empty net before Sharks goalie Antti Niemi could move laterally at 11:52 of the second period.
"Those things can't happen," Murray said. "I defended him right before. Obviously I thought I had more separation than I did."
Chicago rallied from an early 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to score four unanswered goals.
"It's always tough coming into this building," Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "They're always flying off of the top, and the crowd's great."
Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels got the Sharks off to a fast start with goals at 2:54 and 5:18 of the first period, the second of which forced Chicago to call its timeout.
San Jose's Michal Handzus answered the first career goal by Blackhawks rookie Brandon Saad by mid-period, but Chicago tied it with two goals in a 42-seconds span later in the first period. Andrew Shaw cut the Blackhawks' deficit to one before Marcus Kruger scored the equalizer unassisted.
The Sharks went 0-for-3 on the power play to extend a recent drought to one goal in 21 man-advantage chances. They certainly could have used at least one strike against the Blackhawks, the league's only team yet to lose in regulation.
"It's huge," Saad said. "Our team is really playing well, really jelling right now."
Kane's second goal of the game -- an empty-netter at 18:48 of the third period -- accounted for the final score.
NOTES: The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 on the power play. ... McLellan split up forwards Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, two of the leading point scorers in the NHL this season. Left wing Ryane Clowe took Marleau's spot on the top line, while Marleau paired with second-liners Logan Couture and Martin Havlat. Marleau and Thornton are scoreless in the past four games after each produced 14 points in San Jose's first six games. ... Chicago's season-long, six-game road trip continues in Phoenix on Thursday before concluding in Nashville on Sunday. ... Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival (lower body) and left wing Daniel Carcillo remain out with lower-body injuries. Left wing Brandon Bollig was Chicago's healthy scratch. ... Defenseman Dan Boyle returned to the Sharks' blue line after missing two of the previous three games due to the flu. ... Defensemen Jason Demers, Nick Petrecki and forward TJ Galiardi did not dress for San Jose.