Dad's day: Sharp scores OT winner again

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Dad's day: Sharp scores OT winner again

Updated: 9:52 p.m.

For the first 40 minutes the Blackhawks forgot the cardinal rule in playing former goaltender Antti Niemi: shoot at him often, and get traffic in front of him.

They finally did it in the final 25 minutes. And guess what the outcome was.

Andrew Brunette deflected the tying goal with 66 seconds left in regulation, and Patrick Sharp scored on the doorstep with 33.2 seconds remaining in overtime as the Blackhawks came back to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Sunday night. It was the Blackhawks second straight victory and fourth in their last five games; and Sundays victory came thanks to those greasy, hard-working goals.

You look at all the goals, theres somebody at the net, coach Joel Quenneville said. We didnt have any pace first 40 minutes. They dictated the game and we had more urgency and zone time in the third. You have to score with traffic. If (Niemi) sees pucks, hes very effective.

The Blackhawks languished in the first 40 minutes against the Sharks, who despite playing Saturday night in St. Louis looked fresher and were active offensively. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, managed just 13 shots in the first two periods. Niemi did have his brilliant stops, including one on Viktor Stalberg early and a stunner against Marian Hossa on a later power play.

And if not for another great night by Ray Emery, the Blackhawks wouldnt have even been within one goal entering the third period. But thanks to his stopping 35 of 37 shots 33 of those shots coming in the first two periods the Blackhawks had a chance; and he had his 100th victory of his career.

Emery said the momentum swing was evident in the third, when the Blackhawks outshot San Jose 16-3.

You could kind of feel it on the bench. We thought we had a pretty good chance to score in there, Emery said. The way we played the whole period we had a lot of chances and it felt like we were about to score at any time.

The equalizer came from Brunette, who, parked in front of Niemi, deflected Hossas shot past him to send it to overtime. And then it was Sharp, whose newborn daughter and wife came home from the hospital earlier in the day, shoving a Hossa rebound past Niemi for his second game-winning goal in as many contests.

Its easy to kind of turn things off when you come to the rink, but I thought I was a space cadet for the whole game and then I was able to bounce one in there for the winner, so I got lucky, Sharp said. Ill be much better on Wednesday.

Taking shots and getting traffic. Theyre two pretty good recipes for success against any goaltender.

Its all because you have someone in front of the net and youre shooting pucks with traffic, Quenneville said. Sometimes it doesnt have to be pretty.

Late punches

Marian Hossa wasnt too happy when San Jose left wing Ryane Clowe started hitting him from behind at the end of regulation on Sunday. Hossa and defenseman Colin White where shoving each other when Clowe came in.

I just tried to shoot the last couple of seconds, (White) gave me a couple of whacks so I returned them and somebody kept hitting me from behind, Hossa said. You try to not pay attention to it but the hits keep coming. I just turned around and told him, Dont be a coward, hitting from behind."

Hossa would set up the game-winner, but he said he put the late-regulation fracas out of his mind.

I think that tying goal gave us lots of energy and I didnt care what happened at the end, he said. We had more jump the last few minutes. It was a great job by Sharpie staying in the crease to get the winning goal.

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”