SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Chicago Blackhawks lost to the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in a shootout Saturday night -- a theme that seems to be a consistent one for the Blackhawks, who are clearly one of the elite teams in the NHL. And yet Chicago has lost 10 of its past 11 games that have gone into overtime or a shootout.
"You need to come up with a save if you want to win the game in a shootout," said a frustrated Corey Crawford, who allowed Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton to light the lamp in the shootout.
"We are confident," said Kris Versteeg, who assisted on Chicago’s lone regulation goal. "We have a lot of skilled players in here. I have been on a lot of teams, and, for some reason, when it snowballs one way, it is tough to get it going the other way. It has been one of those years for us for whatever reason, and, really, we’ll just try to turn that around with a big shootout win the next time we get one."
Crawford was outstanding during regulation and overtime, making 38 saves, including a few huge ones in both the third period and the extra frame.
"Corey made four or five game-savers for us," Versteeg said. "He kept us in it and gave us a chance to win. Obviously, we wanted to get him that extra goal."
Niemi made 29 saves for the Sharks (35-15-6).
All the scoring in regulation came on the same power play in the third period. With Brad Stuart in the penalty box, Pavelski broke free for a short-handed goal.
Sixty-three seconds later, with Chicago still having the man advantage, Versteeg passed the puck from the left faceoff circle to the right, where Brandon Saad buried the one-timer to tie the score.
"That was huge," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Giving up a short-handed goal in a nothing-nothing game in the third period -- that got us right back into it. It didn’t give them a chance to enjoy the lead."
The rest of the game was a battle for puck possession, space on the ice and opportunity.
"Both teams played hard. It was a fast-paced game," Quenneville said. "Checking was at a premium tonight. Getting space was hard to come by."
The coach added that you could feel the intensity of the game from the start. "That was a playoff game," Quenneville said. "You could feel it. The building felt it. This building can get loud and noisy."
The Blackhawks were perfect on the penalty kill, stopping all four San Jose power-play opportunities. They have now killed 22 consecutive chances dating to an overtime loss to Colorado on Jan. 14, and they are 29-for-31 on the penalty kill in their past 11 games.