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Hawks shot down in shootout
All the elements were there Saturday for the Blackhawks to snap their losing skid and gain some ground in the Western Conference playoff race.
They received a stellar effort from goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and pushed the game to a shootout, when they usually thrive. But the Hawks came away with only one point as they fell 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks before a crowd of 17,496 at HP Pavilion.
Former Hawk Jeremy Roenick's goal and Evgeni Nabokov's saves on Patrick Sharp, Robert Lang and Cam Barker in the shootout increased the Hawks' losing streak to four games and dropped their record to 23-25-4 overall, including 4-2 in shootouts.
"I thought our team battled hard, and we can be happy with the way we played," Sharp said. "It's always disappointing to lose in a shootout like that, but we can hold our heads high and know we played a good game."
Khabibulin made 38 saves and stopped the Sharks' first two shootout attempts, but Joe Pavelski's and Roenick's scores handed him a defeat for the 10th straight time.
"His performance was incredible," Savard said of Khabibulin. "I believe in him. He's a battler."
Patrick Kane opened the shootout for the Hawks with his fifth goal in six shootout attempts this season, but Nabokov shut down the Hawks from then on.
"Khabibulin played well for us, and it was a good effort by the team," Kane said. "I think we played pretty well. That's obviously a positive look at things, but it would have been nice to get two points with the shootout."
The Sharks outshot the Hawks 13-4 in the opening period, but Sharp gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead after one when he scored at the 18-minute-50-second mark. Sharp redirected Barker's shot from the blue line past Nabokov for this 23rd goal of the season.
Khabibulin faced 13 more shots in the second period, but it took a two-man advantage for San Jose to tie it 1-1. With Barker (interference) and Sharp (hooking) in the penalty box, Jonathan Cheechoo scored at the 5:35 mark.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic's goal at 3:30 of the third gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead, but Duncan Keith brought the Hawks back. The defenseman scored his sixth goal of the season with a shot from the top of the left circle with 5:14 left.
"San Jose is a good team," Sharp said. "It's tough to get anything by that goaltender. There were individual battles all over the ice we competed in and engaged in. I'm proud of our team for the way we played."
The Hawks, outshot by the Sharks 40-21, haven't won in their last 10 games against San Jose.
They travel next to Edmonton to take on the Oilers on Wednesday night in the third game of their seven-game trip.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win," Savard said. "We were one shot away from winning. We had a chance to finish them off, and we didn't."