Riding high with four straight victories away from home, the Blackhawks came to San Jose, the city where road winning streaks go to die.
The Sharks had not lost in regulation at home prior to the Hawks' visit and following Wednesday night's 3-2 overtime victory in front of a crowd of 17,496 at the HP Pavilion, they still haven't. The loss snapped the Hawks' three-game winning streak--all of which came to open this annual November circus trip--but earned them a point against the NHL's top team. The Hawks fell to 4-3-2 on the road and 10-4-6 overall. San Jose improved to a league-best 12-0-1 at home and 18-3-1 overall.
Jonathan Toews scored both Hawks goals but Joe Thornton scored 45 seconds into overtime to give the Sharks the victory.
The Hawks lost two players to injuries, including starting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. Before the injury, Khabibulin was stellar by thwarting 24 Sharks shots and keeping the Hawks in the game.
"We're not happy with that," Toews said of losing. "Again, another game where we worked hard and, yeah, we had a rough first period but that's a heck of a team. You see why they are we're they're at and why they've done so well so far.
"We weathered the storm and stuck with it and had a good second period and gave ourselves a chance to win in the third period. We're happy about coming back and holding that team to two goals in regulation [but] it's [hard] to lose, we wanted that game."
San Jose, which scored four power-play goals in a 6-5 victory the last time these teams met, used the man-advantage to take a 1-0 lead. Make that a two-man advantage.
With Aaron Johnson (interference) and Brent Seabrook (high-sticking) in the Hawks penalty box, Rob Blake fired a slap shot from the top of the circles that got past Khabibilun with 17 seconds remaining in the first.
Prior to that, Khabibulin staved off a period-long flurry by the Sharks, who out shot the Hawks 17-2 in the opening period.
A great individual effort by Toews knotted the score at 1-1 midway through the second. The Hawks captain picked up the puck at his own blue line, skated the length of the ice and beat Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov from the left circle for his third goal of the season.
The second period was costly injury-wise for the Hawks. First, Johnson was injured when San Jose's Mike Grier drilled him into the boards, drawing a five-minute boarding penalty and game misconduct. Johnson lay on the ice for several minutes before skating off holding his left arm. The defenseman did not return.
In the waning seconds of the period, Khabibulin was slow to get up after a goal-mouth scramble and slowly left the ice with an undetermined injury. Cristobal Huet replaced him and finished the game.
In the opening minute of the third, Toews scored his second of the game while on the power play to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead. With San Jose's Dan Boyle in the box for hooking, Patrick Kane slid a pass from the right face-off circle to Toews who tipped it past Nabokov.
San Jose tied it 2-2 midway through the third when Patrick Marleau tucked the puck past Huet around the right post.
The Sharks got the game-winner when Ryane Clowe sent a pass to Thornton who redirected it past Huet for the victory.
"It's a tough way to go out," Hawks winger Patrick Kane said. "I think everyone in here feels we played well. They're a good team. They get a lot of momentum at home with their crowd. We hung in there, though. We have a great bunch of guys, a lot of character. We have to find ways to win those games. We're still young and hopefully down the road here we have to get those points in the overtime and shootouts."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times