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Sharp scores game-winner in shootout for Blackhawks, nets 200th career goal

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Updated: October 15, 2013 11:50PM



RALEIGH, N.C. — The Blackhawks left PNC Arena with the 2,500th victory in franchise history, sealed with Patrick Sharp’s second career game-winning goal following the birth of a daughter, and pulled out another hard-fought one-goal win, 3-2 in a shootout over the Carolina Hurricanes.

But the plot that led to that storybook ending was all too familiar.

For a moment there midway through the first period, it looked like someone finally had unkinked the hose for the Hawks offense. Sharp finally got career goal No. 200, Marian Hossa finally scored his first non empty-netter of the season, and the Hawks — having generated so many scoring chances but so few goals through the last four games — appeared poised to pour it on.

But it was just a blip, not a breakthrough. The Hawks couldn’t open the floodgates, and instead let the Hurricanes hang around until they scored two goals in the third period — by Alexander Semin and Ron Hainsey — to send the game to overtime. There was no harm to the letdown, as the Hawks escaped with two points and the Hurricanes are in the Eastern Conference, but it continued an alarming early trend for the Hawks, who have been outscored 6-0 in their last five third periods.

“It seems like we dominate each game in the first period,” Hossa said. “But in the second or third period, we have to manage the game better. We’ve had great starts, but we didn’t have great finishes.”

Excluding Hossa’s empty-netter in the season opener, every Hawks game has been a one-goal game. The good news is, the Hawks are 4-1-1, one last-minute breakdown against St. Louis away from another lengthy season-opening point streak. The bad news is, they’re making it awfully hard on themselves despite regularly outplaying opponents.

“I don’t know if it’s taking our foot off the gas, I guess it’s just a matter of not shutting games out,” Sharp said. “It’s tough to do. Teams are good these days, and they want to make a push in the last part of the game.”

Joel Quenneville said nothing changes in the game plan for the Hawks with a third-period lead, and Hossa suggested they should play even more conservatively, with a third man high. Quenneville chalked up the Hurricanes’ rally to desperation.

“We got a lead, the other team’s pressing, gambling, taking chances, and they’re coming after you,” he said. “Whether we can exploit that offensively, or do a better job defensively, we’ve got to find that [answer].”

As Quenneville said, “We’ll take a win on the road any day of the week.” So the Hawks weren’t overly frustrated with the loss. For Sharp, it was particularly sweet. Two years ago, when his daughter, Madelyn, was born, he scored the game-winning goal in overtime two nights later. Sharp’s second daughter, Sadie, was born Sunday, and two nights later, Sharp scored the lone goal in the shootout to secure the victory.

“Looks like we’ve got to have some more kids,” Sharp said.

So the Hawks chose to focus on the positives — another strong start, another night of offensive opportunities, another victory in a one-goal game, and another two points. With Sharp and Hossa off the schneid, and the offense generating the amount of chances it has, they figure it’s only a matter of time before the dam bursts, and those dominating two-goal first periods become dominating three- and four-goal first periods. And that’ll make closing out games a whole lot easier.

“That’s a good team over there, and we’re playing in their building,” Sharp said. “To bend but not to break, and get to overtime and steal the two points, we’ll take it.”

EMAIL: mlazerus@suntimes.com

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