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Niemi continues mastery of former team
Sharks beat Blackhawks in 2-1 shootout thriller
2/1/14 - By Mike Lee -

Don't try to understand it. Just roll with it. After stinking it up against the two worst teams in the Western Conference, the Sharks knocked off one of the best in the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night 2-1 in a shootout thriller. Antti Niemi and Corey Crawford combined to make 67 saves in their goaltending duel. Joe Pavelski scored a goal in regulation and again in the shootout to help the Sharks get back into the win column for the first time in 5 games.

* San Jose looked like a completely different team from the squad that couldn't stop the Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames from putting a bushel of pucks past Sharks goaltending. San Jose still continues to struggle in the goal scoring department, but the Sharks player of the month for January, Joe Pavelski, got the Sharks on the board before Chicago could score.

* Brad Stuart put the Sharks in a precarious position 5:43 into the 3rd period when he hooked Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. Pavelski knocked a lead pass from Scott Hannan down at the Chicago blueline, then raced past Duncan Keith on the way to the net. The Sharks leading goal scorer lifted a host over Crawford's left shoulder for his 29th tally of the season and 10th career goal against the Blackhawks.

* Pavelski's goal was the 8th shorthanded goal of his career, moving him into 5th place on the Sharks all-time franchise shorthanded goals list.

* The assist that Hannan recorded on Pavelski's goal moved him into sole possession of 6th place on the Sharks all-time franchise assist list for defenseman (108 assists).

* The Stuart penalty would still end up biting San Jose when Justin Braun whiffed on a clearing attempt in the Sharks zone. The puck deflected to Kris Versteeg at the bottom of the left circle. Versteeg sent a pass through the slot to Brandon Saad on the off wing for the one time chance that beat Niemi.

* San Jose had a chance to end things in regulation when Patrick Sharp was sent off for high sticking Dan Boyle. San Jose had several chances but Crawford stood tall.

* Things looked iffy for the Sharks in the overtime when the Blackhawks controlled the puck in the San Jose zone for the final two minutes of the extra period. The Sharks out-shot Chicago in the overtime period, but the Blackhawks had better scoring opportunities.

* In the shootout, Pavelski kicked things off by racing in on Crawford before putting on the brakes and snapping a shot inside the right post. Jonathan Toews answered with a goal of his own send the two teams to the 2nd round tied. Patrick Marleau snapped a shot that squeaked through Crawford's 5-hole. Niemi stuffed Patrick Sharp to give Sa Jose the advantage. Joe Thornton ended the game with a toe-drag move to his right, sweeping the puck into the net to snap the Sharks 3-game losing streak. The goal made Thornton a perfect 3-for-3 in the shootout this season.

* Tommy Wingels and Brent Burns led all players with seven shots each. Wingels' seven shot total was a season-high for him.

* Marc-Edouard Vlasic had five blocked shots tonight to lead all skaters. Vlasic has 102 total blocked shots on the season, ranking 2nd on the Sharks.

Game Quotes:

Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan: "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."

McLellan (on the performance): "We were focused and stuck with the game plan. 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."

Joe Thornton (on the shortness of the lead): "We know how to react and I thought we reacted well. It's one of those things where they just made a nice play [to get a quick goal]."

Joe Pavelski: "It always feels good to win, especially when you lose a few in a row. When we play our game, we know what we want to accomplish in here."

Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville: "I think both teams played hard. It was a fast-paced game, checking was at a premium tonight, and getting some space was hard to come by. I thought both teams knew it and were respectful for what the other team can do with their rush game and their puck possession game. Both teams had some quality looks on that one shift where they just about scored and we hit the post. It was like 'Wow, that was one shift.' The turnaround was right there with both teams having it on the line late in the game. For the most part it was pretty tight."

Brandon Saad: "It's a little frustrating but I think we didn't play our best team game today. 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 but in the end you obviously want to get two points."

Kris Versteeg: "It was a playoff-type atmosphere. The time and space with the puck was non-existent, so you had to be smarter or it was going to end up in the back of your net. Both teams seemed to play a pretty solid game, obviously it comes down to the shootout and you never know what's going to happen. It hasn't been going our way for whatever reason but there was a lot of positives from tonight's game."

Corey Crawford: "I think trying to find a way, I mean not making a save in the shootout tonight doesn't really give you a chance to win. 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."


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1 2 3 OT SO T
CHI 0 0 1 0 0 1
SJ 0 0 1 0 1 2
1st period - None.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 29 (Hannan), 6:10, (sh). 2, CHI, Saad 18 (Versteeg, Hossa), 7:13, (pp).
Overtime - None.
Shootout - SJ: Pavelski (goal), Marleau (goal), Thornton (goal). CHI: Toews (goal), Sharp (miss).
1st period - Marleau, SJ (tripping), 12:39; Kane, CHI (hooking), 18:31.
2nd period - Brown, SJ (tripping), 4:31; Bench, CHI (too many men), 8:39; Braun, SJ (high sticking), 15:13.
3rd period - Hjalmarsson, CHI (hooking), 3:08; Stuart, SJ (hooking), 5:43; Sharp, CHI (high sticking), 17:32.
Overtime - None.
Shots Saves
CHI - Crawford 39 38
SJ - Niemi 30 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
CHI 8 13 8 1 30
SJ 11 11 14 3 39
Power Play Conversion
CHI 1 of 4
SJ 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Antti Niemi
Corey Crawford
Joe Pavelski
Referees: LaRue, Meier. Linesmen: Heyer, Mach.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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