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.

Jonathan Toews practices but won’t play vs. Flyers

Jonathan Toews practices but won’t play vs. Flyers

Jonathan Toews sounded somewhat frustrated but cognizant of the situation.

If it were the postseason there’s no doubt he would be playing right now. That’s not a surprise to hear, considering what hockey players put themselves through when the playoffs start. But this is early December. There are too many games remaining. And with it coming down to making sure he’s healthy for the long haul, it’s an easy call.

Toews practiced on Friday for the first time since being hurt, but he won’t travel to Philadelphia when the Blackhawks face the Flyers on Saturday afternoon. It will be the fifth consecutive game Toews has missed since he was hurt against the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 23. Still, him skating on his own and then practicing with teammates for a few minutes is a good sign that Toews is closing in on a return.

“Just come back and check in again [Saturday], see how it is and hopefully, I guess as they say, re-evaluate for Sunday,” Toews said on Friday. “It’s never fun to miss any time, especially when the team is playing as many games as they are. So nice to get back out there and move around and get going a little bit.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Toews was placed on injured reserve on Friday, retroactive to Nov. 24, the day after he was injured.  Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll see how Toews feels on Saturday and, “we’ll get a better idea going forward. But he’s not on the trip.”

“You gotta be fully recovered and want to make sure guys are 100 percent before they can play,” Quenneville said. “Jonny plays at a certain pace and it’s all out, so let’s make sure he’s more than ready when he’s coming back.”

Several have reported that Toews has a back injury, and the captain was doing several back stretches during Friday’s session. Toews left in the second period of the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Sharks, moments after he went down awkwardly. But Toews said he wasn’t hurt on that play. 

“I think it was just something that started to aggravate in the first period. I tried playing in the second and that instance right there, just went down like a ton of bricks,” Toews said. “I was trying not to aggravate the injury more than I already had. That wasn’t where I got hurt; [it was] probably the instance people were looking for to see what the explanation was.”

If this were April and the playoffs were about to begin, Toews probably wouldn’t be as patient with his injury. But it isn’t, and he will be. It’s not worth making worse. The Blackhawks have managed to get points in his absence, going 3-0-1 so far.

“It’s the type of thing most guys would be able to suck up and play if it were a playoff game and putting everything on the line. But at this point, with the amount of games left in the season, it’s not something you want to continuously deal with,” he said. “If you aggravate it, it’ll keep coming back to haunt you. It’s tough to hold back and do less than you know you can, but in the long run, trying to make sure I get back to 100 percent.”

BRIEFLY

- Trevor van Riemsdyk was activated off the injured-reserve list and is expected to play against the Flyers.

- Marian Hossa took practice off. He is expected to play.

-  Corey Crawford will start vs. Philadelphia.

Blackhawks Road Ahead: Feasting on the East

Blackhawks Road Ahead: Feasting on the East

Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Jamal Mayers have the latest on Joel Quenneville's group in this edition of the Blackhawks Road Ahead, sponsored by Chicagoland NW Indiana Honda dealers.

The Blackhawks are once again taking care of business, going 3-0-1 with their captain Jonathan Toews on the sideline. They're also 6-2-2 against the East this year, and they'll get another chance to add to that record when they take on the Flyers this week.

Here's what our Blackhawks Postgame Live crew had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Aehad.