CHICAGO — Jonathan Toews felt he had to stand up for himself, so he skated up to Joe Thornton, jabbed him with his stick and then dropped his gloves.
The Chicago Blackhawks responded to the rare fight for their captain. The sliding San Jose Sharks just went down again.
Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw scored during Chicago’s strong second period, and the NHL-leading Blackhawks beat the Sharks 4-1 on Friday night for their fifth win in six games.
Dave Bolland and Niklas Hjalmarsson also scored for the Blackhawks, who remain the league’s only team without a regulation loss. Jamal Mayers had two assists and backup Ray Emery made 27 saves for his fourth win in four starts this season.
“Everything was good tonight," Toews said. “The penalty kill was huge in the first period, with the big 4-minute penalty kill we had to kill. Big goal by Bolly (Bolland) after that, and I think that just set the tone for the night with that penalty kill."
The Blackhawks were forced to play a man short after Toews and Thornton got into it with about 4½ minutes left in the first period. The star centers locked up for a minute before Thornton dragged Toews to the ice and the linesmen skated in.
“He asked me to fight and I was kind of shocked," said Thornton, who became San Jose’s captain in 2010. “I said, ‘Sure.’ That’s how it went. He’d hit me from behind, but it wasn’t anything serious. Then he just asked me to fight, so I obliged.
“Hopefully the guys could rally after it. They didn’t, but we’ll be back. What do you do? They want to fight, so sure, I’ll fight."
Toews received 2 minutes for boarding, 2 minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 5-minute fighting major. Thornton got 5 minutes for fighting. But the Sharks were unable to take advantage of the resulting power play.
“There’s always little things, players that are going to be chipping at you and trying to get under your skin," Toews said. “I think the rest is history right now. Like I said, I felt it was something I needed to do, stand up for myself, and I did it and glad I did it. I think it helped our team."
San Jose has dropped seven in a row after getting off to a 7-0 start. Three of the losses have come in a shootout or overtime.
Tim Kennedy scored his first goal of the season for the Sharks (7-4-3), and Antti Niemi had 33 saves against his former team.
“Tonight, let’s face it: One team was fast, moved pucks, attacked," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “Another team bobbled pucks and misplayed them and was slow. Simple as that. We haven’t been that way all seven games."
Each of the Blackhawks’ first three goals came on rebounds, including an ugly gaffe by Niemi in the second period.
Also on Friday:
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Christian Ehrhoff scored the winner with 10:58 remaining and the Buffalo Sabres rallied for three goals in the third period to beat Boston.
NEWARK, N.J. — David Clarkson scored on a deflection at 10:43 of the third period and New Jersey rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat Philadelphia.
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Craig Adams scored his first two goals of the season to lift Pittsburgh to its seventh road win of the season.
Red Wings 2
DETROIT — Andrew Cogliano scored two of Anaheim’s three goals in the third period, sending surging Anaheim to its third straight win and seventh in eight games.
CALGARY, Alberta — David Perron scored twice on the power play and St. Louis scored four unanswered goals in the first period to cruise to the victory over Calgary.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Brenden Dillon scored the go-ahead goal with 3 minutes left in the third period and Dallas rallied past Vancouver to end the Canucks’ six-game winning streak.
Blue Jackets 1
LOS ANGELES — Kyle Clifford opened the scoring late in the second period, Jonathan Bernier made 12 saves and Los Angeles beat Columbus for the defending Stanley Cup champions’ first regulation win at home this season.