Blackhawks fall to Sharks 3-2 in shootout
BY SETH GRUEN Staff Reporter January 5, 2014 9:58PM
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford misses the winning goal scored by San Jose Sharks' Joe Pavelski during a shootout in an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Jan., 5, 2014. San Jose won 3-2. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Updated: January 5, 2014 11:37PM
The Blackhawks have the most offensive talent of any team in the NHL and can run three lines onto the ice without concern of whether they’ll be able to score consistently.
That makes their struggles in shootouts this season all the more mysterious.
The Hawks lost 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night at the United Center, dropping a shootout 2-0 to bring their record to 4-6 in games decided in shootouts. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp both missed.
The most common explanation for the shootout troubles: confidence.
‘‘When you get on a roll at the start of the season, you have a confidence about your shootouts and you can kind of roll throughout the season,’’ winger Kris Versteeg said. ‘‘So far, maybe we don’t have confidence in the shootout we need. Even the guys going in, they’re still getting good looks and good chances.’’
Though goalie Corey Crawford allowed Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski to score in the shootout, he was the reason the Hawks stayed close through much of the game.
Through the first two periods, the Hawks rarely were able to generate quality chances despite mustering 24 shots on goal. They didn’t have a consistent presence in front of the net and struggled to get shots in the slot. But through two periods, Crawford only allowed Sharks defenseman Jason Demers to beat him, on a one-timer at 10:12 in the first period.
The Sharks averaged a league-high 35.9 shots per game heading into Sunday.
‘‘It was a tough game,” said Crawford, who had missed 10 games with a groin injury. ‘‘They played us pretty hard defensively. It was probably the toughest game we’ve had to face for a team playing defense, and we were able to still come back. That’s what I like about our team: the character.’’
While the shootout struggles need to be fixed, the Hawks never should have found themselves in that position Sunday. Coach Joel Quenneville credited the Sharks’ solid checking for keeping the Hawks out of sync offensively, but Versteeg said they didn’t come out with the requisite energy, particularly against a team on the back end of back-to-back road games.
Trailing 1-0 heading into the third period, the Hawks were more assertive in the offensive zone and scored two goals within 2:34. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson scored on a slap shot in the slot after a pass from Toews before defenseman Michal Rozsival scored off a slap shot of his own.
But the Sharks’ Brent Burns tied the game at 2 — the result of going unmarked after Hjalmarsson was cross-checked.
The victory was the Sharks’ first at the United Center since Dec. 30, 2010. The Hawks have earned at least one point in their last 10 games, but that was little consolation.
‘‘We left a lot of points here on the board here in the shootout,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘We could have put ourselves in a better spot than we’re at. That’s been a sore spot recently.’’