Despite shootout loss, Crawford shows his strength
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Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford makes a save during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks in Chicago, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
As far as showdowns go this one didn't really heat up until the third period.
The Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks, two of the best teams in the Western Conference, hooked up at the United Center on Sunday night in a game that had to be decided in a shootout.
The Sharks won 3-2 on shootout goals by Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski while Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp failed to score for the Hawks.
The Sharks got the game to overtime on a goal by Brent Burns with 9:50 to play in regulation.
The loss spoiled a fine performance by Hawks goalie Corey Crawford, who made 40 saves.
"Excellent, he was great," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought he responded with several big saves in the second period (after) some faceoff looks that we lost. He was big. He had a couple of key saves there when the game was on the line."
The Sharks took a 1-0 in the first period on a goal by Jason Demers that was set up by Couture. "We didn't really start the way we wanted to," Hawks winger Kris Versteeg said. "We came out in the third and really played our game."
Sharks coach Todd McLellan was pleased with his team' defensive effort despite allowing 42 shots.
"It was the best defensive effort we've had in this building in awhile," McLellan said. "When you feed their transition, which is their biggest strength, you get yourselves in a lot of trouble. It still happened throughout the night. It's hard to play perfect, but we were pretty solid in our zone. It was a really good road game."
The Hawks got goals from defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Michal Rozsival early in the third period to go ahead 2-1, but Joe Thornton set up Burns to tie it midway through the third.
The Hawks never really tested Sharks rookie goalie Alex Stalock until the third period.
Demers got his third goal at 10:12 of the first period when he took a pass from Couture behind the net and beat Crawford from the low right circle.
Couture is one of the bubble players awaiting the announcement Tuesday morning of the Canadian Olympic team, and he didn't hurt his chances Sunday when he was pretty much the best player on the ice.
Hjalmarsson tied it at 1:27 of the third period from in the slot. Hjalmarsson beat Stalock from point-blank range after taking a pass from Toews.
Rozsival made it 2-1 at 4:01 on a long slap shot through an Andrew Shaw screen. Burns got his 14th at 11:10 on a pass from Thornton, the NHL's assist leader.
"We were just a little bit more competitive," Thornton said. "You have to be competitive against these guys. Any win in here is special. It's a hard place to play. They play fast. They play hard."
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