After 65 minutes of hockey, it took two rounds of a shootout for the visiting San Jose Sharks to earn a victory at the United Center on Sunday night.
Jason Demers scored his third of the season to open the scoring in the middle of the first period, and the Sharks would hold onto their lead for more than 30 minutes. But Chicago put two quick scores on the board to take a lead early in the third.
Both of Chicago’s goals came from defensemen. Jonathan Toews set up Niklas Hjalmarsson for his fourth of the year at 1:27, and Marcus Kruger received the only assist on Michal Rozsival’s first of the season less than three minutes later.
Unfortunately, Brent Burns tied the game at 11:01 into the third, and the score would stay tied at two until the shootout decided the game. Burns’ goal came after he delivered a nice crosscheck to Hjalmarsson that went uncalled.
Hjalmarsson was credited with a team-high five blocked shots in the game, while Rozsival was credited with a team-high five hits.
Corey Crawford stopped 40 of 42 shots but allowed both of San Jose’s first two shooters to score in the shootout. Alex Stalock stopped 33 of 35 to earn the victory.
Coach Joel Quenneville put the lines in a blender early and often on Sunday evening. Brandon Saad opened the game on the second line with Patrick Kane and Michal Handzus, but Handzus was replaced by Andrew Shaw by the end of the first period. By the third, Handzus was back with Kane, and Kris Versteeg had moved back to the line opposite Kane with Saad moving to a third line with Kruger and Shaw.
Kane was credited with a team-high seven shots on net in the game, and three more that missed the mark. Handzus skated 15:48 but won 10 of 16 faceoffs. The only other Hawks to win more than half of their faceoffs in the game were Toews, who won 12 of 22, and Patrick Sharp, who won two of three.
Kruger skated 16:08 and only won six of 17 faceoffs in the game; he was credited with one hit and one takeaway with his assist. Versteeg was credited with two hits and two takeaways in the game, and Saad had two hits in the game.
Once again, Bryan Bickell was a ghost. He skated 5:20 – nine shifts – and was credited with one hit in the game. He didn’t step on the ice in the third period, and continues to show a significant lack of confidence while trying to get comfortable on his legs after returning from a knee injury.
The Blackhawks have now lost their last five overtime games. Their last win that came after regulation was a shootout victory in Dallas on Nov. 29.
However, in eight games since Dec. 20, the Blackhawks have killed 18 of 20 penalties successfully. On Sunday night they killed the one power play the Sharks received, a Brandon Bollig penalty late in the first period.
The Hawks host the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.