Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Corey Crawford vs. Antti Niemi. Last year, it was for the backup spot behind Cristobal Huet on the Blackhawks. Now, it’s the Blackhawks vs. the San Jose Sharks.
Crawford and Niemi faced each other for the first time Saturday in San Jose. It was Niemi who was able to do enough to pull out a 2-1 victory in overtime. Ryane Clowe scored the game-winner with 1:08 left in OT. It was his second goal of the game.
Both goalies shined. Crawford stopped 28 shots, including a sprawling save on Benn Ferriero during a power play as time expired in the first period and one in the third on Dany Heatley. Niemi also made 28 saves, including key stops Jonathan Toews, Jack Skille and others.
Crawford fell short of Denis DeJordy’s franchise record of eight straight wins for a rookie goalie.
Viktor Stalberg scored what appeared to be the go-ahead goal for the Hawks in the second, but referee Greg Kimmerly whistled the play dead, even though Skille’s shot squirted through Niemi’s pads before Stalberg knocked it in. Jordan Hendry tied at it 1 late in the first after Clowe gave the Sharks the lead.
Niemi and Crawford are in similar situations. Neither has been declared the No. 1 goalie, but both have carried the load recently. Crawford’s recent string of success has a been big reason for the Hawks’ turnaround.
With Jeremy Morin as the only recall from the Rockford IceHogs, defensemen Hendry and John Scott were both on the fourth line with center Jake Dowell on Saturday.
Hendry, playing for the first time since Nov. 7, scored his first goal this year when his shot managed to trickle past Niemi late in the first. Scott and Dowell assisted. It was Scott’s first point this season.