Sharp lifts Blackhawks to 2-1 shootout win over Penguins
CHICAGO (AP) Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane kicked it off for Chicago, and Patrick Sharp finished the job. The star-studded shootout turned into quite a show for the Blackhawks.
Sharp scored the decisive goal in the tiebreaker, lifting the Blackhawks to a 2-1 victory over Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.
Toews and Kane also converted their shootout attempts, helping the Blackhawks improve to 7-2 when the game is tied after overtime. Chicago went 6-8 in shootout games last season.
"I mean Jonny and Kaner, that's a 1-2 punch that's as good as any team in the league, and then Sharpy ends up finishing it," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "So it was necessary today, and it's been effective for us this year."
Nick Spaling scored in the third period for Pittsburgh, which had won four of five. Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves through overtime, but was unable to stop any of Chicago's shootout attempts.
Thanks to David Perron and Crosby, the Penguins still had a chance for a big road win before Sharp skated in and beat Fleury into the right side for the victory. Fleury slammed his stick into the post in disgust after the final play.
"It's almost unfortunate that it wasn't a playoff game where I guess you could see a real winner and win," Perron said. "They got the two points today, but I thought we were satisfied with how we played the whole 65 minutes."
Niklas Hjalmarsson scored in the second period for Chicago, which also posted a shootout win at Pittsburgh on Jan. 21 in their only other scheduled meeting this season. Corey Crawford finished with 36 stops.
The Blackhawks have captured six of a possible eight points through the first half of a season-high eight-game homestand.
"We can't be giving up any points," Crawford said. "Teams below us in our division are starting to play really good hockey. Especially at home, we've got to get as many as we can."
Chicago jumped in front when Hjalmarsson beat Fleury with a long slap shot early in the second. Following a faceoff in the Pittsburgh zone, Brandon Saad played the puck back to Hjalmarsson to set up the second goal of the season for the steady defenseman.
The Penguins responded in the third period. Beau Bennett got free for a shot that was stopped by Crawford, but Spaling sent the rebound into the upper left corner for his ninth of the season.
Perron was stopped by Crawford on a prime opportunity midway through overtime, and Fleury made a nice save on Marian Hossa to help the send the game to the shootout.
"That's two games we've played against this team and we've played well defensively," Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said. "We had our scoring chances and we didn't convert. I thought our power play looked good, too."
Crosby was shut out after he had two goals in Thursday night's 5-4 shootout victory at Ottawa. The captain also was a part of a strange sequence at the end of the second period.
Crosby was sent off for tripping Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya, drawing loud cheers from the crowd of 22,169. But replays showed Oduya went down on his own and the officials conferred before rescinding the penalty, allowing Crosby to leave the box.
The All-Star center was whistled for tripping Toews in the third, leading to more cheers from the sellout crowd. But the Penguins killed off the ensuing power play.
NOTES: Penguins D Christian Ehrhoff (concussion protocol) skated Sunday morning. He was injured Jan. 28 at Washington and has missed the last eight games. ... Blackhawks F Ben Smith returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for Friday night's win over New Jersey for the first time this season. D Michal Rozsival also played after missing the game against the Devils with an upper body injury. ... Bennett finished with a game-high nine shots. ... Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin attended the game. ... Former Blackhawks defenseman Steve Montador was found unconscious in his home early Sunday morning and was later pronounced dead, according to police in Canada. Montador, 35, made his NHL debut in 2001 with Calgary and played for six teams in parts of 10 seasons.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap