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Sharp, Hossa rescue Blackhawks in wild OT win over Canadiens

CHICAGO IL - APRIL 09: (L-R) Kris Versteeg #23 Andrew Shaw #65 Marian Hoss#81 Patrick Sharp #10 Michal Handzus #26

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 09: (L-R) Kris Versteeg #23, Andrew Shaw #65, Marian Hossa #81, Patrick Sharp #10 and Michal Handzus #26 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate Hossa's game-tying goal in the third period against the Montreal Canadiens at the United Center on April 9, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Canadiens 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Updated: April 9, 2014 10:44PM



The Blackhawks kept alive their slim hopes for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday night with a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

But the suspense really lies in who the Hawks will face in that first series — a rather stunning development given how the Central Division standings looked just a week or two ago.

Colorado’s race with the Hawks for the second seed has suddenly taken a back seat to its race with St. Louis for first place. The red-hot Avalanche have moved within two points of the ice-cold Blues, each with three games left. That means the Hawks might wind up facing the Blues — the team that had been the league’s best nearly all season long until their recent free fall — in the first round.

No matter who they face, the Hawks likely will start on the road. But thanks in large part to Patrick Sharp and Corey Crawford, that’s not set in stone just yet. Sharp set up Marian Hossa’s game-tying goal with 47.7 seconds left in regulation, then scored the game-winner 43 seconds into overtime. In between, with 21 seconds left in regulation, Crawford (28 saves) made a diving save on a Max Pacioretty shot to get the game to overtime.

It was the Hawks’ fourth straight win (following a three-game losing skid), and their first overtime victory in 22 tries this season.

“It’s nice to be on the right side of the two points after the tough stretch we had a few weeks ago,” Sharp said.

The game was scoreless until Dale Weise gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead 7:31 into the third. Jeremy Morin tied it with his third goal in four games, but Francis Bouillon took the lead back 22 seconds later, setting up the late Hawks heroics.

“Those last eight minutes were unbelievable,” Crawford said. “We were buzzing around and it just felt like we were going to score there. It was a great finish to the game. That’s the way we have to play.”

As for who the Hawks will face, that remains to be seen. The Avs are 7-0-1 in their last eight games, while the Blues have lost three straight and have scored just five goals in their last five games. Colorado closes at Vancouver, at San Jose and at Dallas, while St. Louis finishes up at Minnesota, at Dallas and home against Detroit.

“You look at the standings, the Avs can catch St. Louis, we can catch Colorado — it’s going to play right down to the end of the season,” Sharp said. “I feel like we’re ready for all different scenarios, whoever we play, wherever we start.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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