SAN JOSE, Calif. — There wasn’t a lot of time and space for either the Chicago Blackhawks or San Jose Sharks on Saturday night. Breathing room on the scoreboard? Nope, there was not much of that there, either.
In one way, the Blackhawks were fine with getting a point out of this one. On the other hand, it was more overtime/frustration.
Brandon Saad tied the game with his power-play goal just 63 seconds after the Sharks took the lead, but San Jose connected on all three of their shootout attempts en route to a 2-1 victory over Chicago at SAP Center. The Blackhawks, who now have 80 points this season, retain second place in the Western Conference.
Corey Crawford was great in regulation and overtime, stopping 38 of 39 shots. But all three Sharks shooters — Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton — bested him in the shootout. Marleau’s shot, which beat Crawford five-hole, proved to be the winner.
The Blackhawks will take the point, considering Crawford’s work through 65 minutes and their struggles to break free from the Sharks. At the same time, going 5-14 in overtimes/shootouts this season is frustrating.
“We’ve got to try to find a way. My not making a save in the shootout doesn’t give you a chance to win,” Crawford said. “It’s a tough loss again. We played well. They’re a good team in this building, We definitely had a chance again to win tonight; we had a couple chances late to win the game. We’ve got to figure it out in the shootout.”
The Sharks entered tonight’s game having just one goal in their last three contests. Pavelski broke that trend early in the third period, when his short-handed goal gave the Sharks a 1-0 advantage. But they had that lead for a mere 63 seconds, as Saad scored a power-play goal to tie it.
“To give up a goal on the power play is something you don’t wan to do,” Saad said. “For us to regroup and get one to tie it up, that was big for our team.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said it was a “huge” goal.
“You give up a shorthanded goal in a 0-0 game in the third, you’ll take a point,” he said. “Scoring (on the power play) got us right back into it; we didn’t give them a chance to enjoy the lead.”
No, the Blackhawks took away the Sharks’ edge in the third period. They just couldn’t stop them in the shootout. The Blackhawks didn’t sulk over this one they have some other recent losses, mainly because it was an intense, space-free contest throughout. But those overtime/shootout losses are piling up nonetheless, and the Blackhawks need more “Ws” out of them.
“Time and space was nonexistent at the top. You had to be smart or (the puck) would end up in the back of your net,” Kris Versteeg said. “Both teams seemed to play a pretty solid game. When it comes down to the shootout, you never know what’s going to happen. For whatever reason, it hasn’t been going our way.”