The San Jose Sharks continued to struggle to score in regulation. The shootout was another matter.
Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton all scored in the tiebreaker to give the Sharks a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks at SAP Center on Saturday night, ending a three-game losing streak.
Pavelski opened the shootout with a spectacular deke before beating Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. After Chicago's Jonathan Toews evened the score by beating Antti Niemi with a backhander, Marleau drove a wrist shot through Crawford's pads. Niemi denied Patrick Sharp and Thornton ended the game with a sensational deke that left him with a wide-open net and Crawford looking on helplessly.
"It always feels good to win, especially when you lose a few in a row," Pavelski said. "When we play our game, we know what we want to accomplish in here."
The loss was Chicago's 14th of the season in a game that went past regulation, including eight shootouts. But the single point kept the Blackhawks (33-10-14) one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues in the race for first place in the Central Division, though the Blues have played three fewer games.
The teams combined for 69 shots in a game that had SAP Center rocking for most of the night.
"That was a playoff game. You could feel it," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "The building felt it and this building can get loud and noisy. The way overtime has gone with us it's a little disappointing but we've been doing some good things 5-on-5 during the game."
Though Crawford made 38 saves through 65 minutes, it wasn't enough to keep Chicago from losing for the fifth time in six games. The Blackhawks are 1-1-1 on their current road trip and play three more games away from home before the Olympic break.
"Not making a save in the shootout tonight doesn't really give you a chance to win," Crawford said. "It's a tough loss, I think. We played well. They're a good team in their building. We definitely had a chance again to win tonight -- a couple of chances late to win the game, we've just got to figure it out in the shootout."
Niemi stopped 29 shots through OT for San Jose, which has won eight of its past nine shootouts and is 20-3-3 at SAP Center. The Sharks are second in the Pacific Division, nine points behind the first-place Anaheim Ducks but 10 in front of the third-place Los Angeles Kings.
"We were focused and stuck with the game plan," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We didn't have to come in between periods and make a lot of adjustments. We liked what we were doing for the most part."
With his team in a funk, McLellan said he and his coaches stressed getting back to basics.
"The message this morning was 'Let's control what we can control.' And a lot of that is commitment to defending the right way, being in the right position at the right time, blocking shots, and doing those types of things."
The Sharks (35-16-6) managed one goal during their three-game slide and couldn't beat Crawford for more than 40 minutes. But the Blackhawks were unable to beat Niemi, and San Jose finally opened the scoring 6:10 into the third period when Pavelski scored his 29th of the season, beating Crawford after a bad breakout pass by Sharp and a quick feed by San Jose defenseman Scott Hannan for his 29th of the season.
The goal came with Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart in the penalty box -- and before his time was up, the Blackhawks got even on Brandon Saad's power-play goal at 7:13. Saad finished off a pass by Kris Versteeg for his 18th of the season and third in three games.
Crawford preserved the tie when he made a pad save at the goal line on a one-timer by Stuart, and the Blackhawks killed a late penalty to force overtime. San Jose was 0-for-4 with the extra man and is 0-for-16 on the power play in its past six games.
"Corey was a big reason why we were even in it and to get a point is something we can look at as a positive for this game," Saad said. "But in the end you obviously want to get two points."
Material from team media was used in this report.
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