Patrick Sharp became the first players in Blackhawks’ history to win back-to-back games with an overtime game-winner, but the story of Sunday night was Ray Emery.
Through 40 minutes, Emery had allowed two goals against 33 shots. He continued to keep the puck out of the net while the offense in front of him continued to exist only in theory; the Blackhawks managed only 13 shots in the first two periods.
But in the third, when the money was on the table, the Hawks showed up defensively. San Jose was credited with only four shots in the third period and overtime combined, and an empty-net goal by Andrew Brunette with 1:06 remaining in regulation gave the Hawks a second chance at a second point.
In the overtime period, neither team managed much pressure until the Blackhawks forced the issue in the final 90 seconds. When Sharp saw a rare Antti Niemi rebound laying in the paint, he forced the game-winner into the net to send the masses home happy.
Marian Hossa had two assists in the game, the only player on either team with more than one point in the game.
Viktor Stalberg led the Blackhawks with six hits in the game, and Nick Leddy was just behind him with five. However, despite the final box score indicating the Hawks had more hits than the Sharks, the reality was that only one team was playing physical hockey in the first 40 minutes and that was the visitors.
Because of the inconsistent play all over the ice, the Hawks’ lines saw some of the most rotation we’ve seen in some time. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane skated with Stalberg, Daniel Carcillo, Andrew Brunette and Sharp at times on Sunday night, and Ben Smith was a ghost for most of the night (skated only 5:48).
Sami Lepisto did everything he could to earn a spot in Rockford, frequently turning the puck over and tripped over himself a number of times in the game. He was bad, and his ice time (8:38) indicates that coach Joel Quenneville was as disappointed as the over-21,000 fans in attendance. Meanwhile, Leddy skated 27:19 and Duncan Keith led the way with 27:50 on the ice. Jonathan Toews skated 26:55, winning 14 of 23 faceoffs.
Chicago now has 40 points in 30 games (18-8-4), and will travel to Western Conference-leading Minnesota for a huge game on Wednesday night. Based on his last few games, fans should expect to see Emery back between the pipes against the Wild.