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Hawks blow lead, then beat Thrashers 5-4 in shootout

by John Kreiser

Thanks to Jonathan Toews, the Chicago Blackhawks went home with two points despite another second-period meltdown.

Toews got the lone goal in the shootout after Dave Bolland's third-period goal forced overtime as the Hawks outlasted the Atlanta Thrashers 5-4 on Saturday night in their last home game before the Olympic break.

The Blackhawks led 3-1 after one period on Patrick Sharp, newcomer Kim Johnsson and Marian Hossa. But as has been the case in recent games, the second period was an entirely different story. Evander Kane, Maxim Afinogenov and Tobias Enstrom scored to give the Thrashers a 4-3 lead after 40 minutes.

"We always seem to ease off the gas a little in the second period and help them keep it a game," Toews said. "It's one of the things we need to do better."

The Blackhawks have been outscored 7-0 in the second period of their last five games and 11-5 in their last 10.

"If we get easy goals in the first period, maybe we're thinking the game's already over," Toews said.

Bolland's goal 4:21 into the third period got the game to overtime. The Blackhawks kept firing away at Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec, taking 14 shots on goal in the third period and four more in overtime. Toews finally got one past him in the first round of the shootout.

But he still wasn't happy about his team's latest second-period snooze.

"Teams are going to come into this building with a lot of energy and lots of enthusiasm. We can't expect to just walk all over teams...we have to keep that effort consistent," Toews said.

Hossa scored his NHL-leading fifth shorthanded goal, but was shouldered in the head by Atlanta's Colby Armstrong in the third period and is listed as day-to-day. Chicago plays at Columbus on Sunday before the Olympic break, and Hossa is scheduled to skate for Slovakia in the Games.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Hossa "was doubtful" for Sunday's game.

Johnsson, a defenseman acquired Friday along with Nick Leddy in a deal that sent Cam Barker to Minnesota, scored in his Chicago debut.

Jim Slater also scored for the Thrashers, who had four goals on just 27 shots against Antti Niemi

"It was a game where you had a false lead, that it was going to be easy. That there would be offense without needing to check," Quenneville said. "The game got turned around. We were fortunate to come out with two points."

Pavelec stopped 36 shots through overtime, and was sharp late in the game to force the shootout.

"I think it was a good point against a great team," Pavelec said. "We started slow a little bit in the first period, but we came back and scored three goals in the second period.

"I was a little lucky there in the third a few times, but in the last three games we got four points and it's pretty good."

In the end, though, the Thrashers left with one point instead of two.

"I think it's better than nothing, but we still had the lead in the third period and we gave it up," coach John Anderson said. They're not a bad hockey team either, and they came at us pretty hard in the third."

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report

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