If the Blackhawks don't make the playoffs, and it certainly could happen, add Thursday's loss to San Jose to the long list of games that got away.
Penalties crippled the Hawks in a 5-3 loss to the Sharks at the United Center -- the ones they deserved and several coach Joel Quenneville couldn't figure out why referees Eric Furlatt and Justin St. Pierre called.
Tim Sassone's game trackerSharks 5, Blackhawks 3
1. Joe Thornton, Sharks: Played 22 minutes, scored the winning goal and dominated the Hawks 14-8 on faceoffs.
2. Dan Boyle, Sharks: Two assists for the star defenseman playing almost 28 minutes.
3. Brian Campbell, Hawks: Played 25 minutes and scored a goal.
Hawks winger Jack Skille was a healthy scratch while defenseman Jordan Hendry took his place at wing. Hendry played seven minutes.
Drop the puck
The Hawks didn't fare well on faceoffs without the injured Jonathan Toews. They lost 45 percent of the draws with only Tomas Kopecky somewhat decent at 9-8.
Quenneville had beefs with the hooking call against Brent Seabrook early in the second period that put the Hawks down two men and with the holding penalty on Jassen Cullimore early in the third that resulted in Joe Thornton's tiebreaking goal seconds after the power play expired.
The Sharks scored on the 5-on-3 created by Seabrook's penalty.
"We did take too many penalties, but I disagree 100 percent with two calls that I don't even know where they came from -- the one that put us down 5-on-3 and the one that led to the winning goal," Quenneville said. "I didn't see it live and after watching the replay I'm really upset."
But there were no arguing penalties to Tomas Kopecky and Nick Boynton that were costly.
Kopecky was in the box for high sticking with Seabrook, a penalty he took in the offensive zone with 13 seconds left in the first period.
Boynton's undisciplined slashing penalty in the second period led to a Dany Heatley goal.
"In St. Louis we took a ton of penalties, but before that we won four games in a row and we took either zero, one or two in every game," defenseman Brian Campbell said. "Especially against a team like San Jose, it's tough to kill off that many penalties. It puts everything out of synch."
The Hawks started the night with the fifth-worst penalty killing percentage in the NHL, which makes staying out of the box even more vital to succeeding.
"We've been talking about discipline," Cullimore said. "Our penalty killing hasn't been that great through the season until now. Those four games in a row we won we were keeping it down to two a game, and to go out and do that today is out of character. Obviously we can't do that if we want to win."
While Sharks goalie Antti Niemi wasn't great, he did outplay Marty Turco to beat his former team for the third time this season in three tries.
"It wasn't an easy game for the goalies," Niemi said.
The Hawks opened the scoring at 15:14 of the first period on Patrick Sharp's power-play goal, but the lead lasted only a few minutes as Turco let a long slap shot from the top of the right circle by Scot Nichol get through him.
"Anytime goals go through you, it's going to happen," Turco said. "You try to eliminate those. Tonight we needed a little extra effort from everybody. I could have made a few more saves and it would have made the difference."
With the Hawks down 3-1 late in the second period, Troy Brouwer and Brian Campbell tallied in the final 23 seconds to give the Hawks all the momentum going to the third.
"It was huge to score those two goals quickly at the end of the period and it felt like we were right back in the game, but the penalties hurt us," Sharp said.