Alexander Barabanov's Sharks return fulfilled in win over Blackhawks

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Barabanov's Sharks return fulfilled in win over Blackhawks originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Fan appreciation night ended with a fulfilled victory in a full tank on Saturday.

The Sharks beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 and have now won two of their last three games.

Left wing Alexander Barabanov returned to the ice after missing the last four games with an upper-body injury, and his presence was certainly felt inside SAP Center. He assisted on Timo Meier’s second-period goal.

“I think it’s a big help,” coach Bob Boughner told reporters after the game. “You saw that goal that Timo scored, that was because of Barbie’s hard work. I think chasing pucks down and battling that 50-50 puck and Timo getting in to clean it up, that’s what Barbie does. I said that before the game, I said that yesterday he’s not a big guy but he puts his nose into hard areas. He’s got a lot of compete in his game. And he’s not 100 percent right now playing, [but] he showed up.”

The praise continued with captain Logan Couture, who talked about Barabanov's presence.

"Very skilled, poised with the puck," Couture said after the game. "Protects it very well for a smaller guy. I think he thinks of the game at a high level. He's not overly fast but he gets into the right spots. Very good player. Obviously without him the past few games, we can tell when he's not playing. I think that's the biggest compliment to him. We're happy to have him."

After losing his first seven starts with the Sharks, Kaapo Kahkonen’s 27 saves vs. the Blackhawks helped lead to his second straight win.

RELATED: Source: Weekes considered strong candidate for Sharks GM

The Sharks scored three goals on their first eight shots. In addition to Timo’s goal, Jasper Weatherby, Tomas Hertl and Nick Bonino also scored.

Chicago outshot the Sharks 28-19, but the Blackhawks’ lone goal came in the second period from Tyler Johnson.

The Sharks hope to keep the momentum going as they head to Las Vegas to take on the Golden Knights on Sunday at 7 p.m. PT.