- It wasn't the way they planned it, but at this point the Chicago Blackhawks
will take two points and a win any way they can.
On Friday night at the United Center, it took a shootout to dispatch the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in front of 21,657 who saw Patrick Kane end a personal goal-scoring slump and Patrick Sharp score his 150th career goal.
It was also two points the Hawks (22-18-3) had to have after starting the day in 12th place in the Western Conference with 45 points - two out of a playoff spot.
"Me and (Marian Hossa) were looking at the standings this morning and saw that we're in 12th with 45 points and the team in fifth had 47," Kane said. "You get a win and you're right back in playoff contention. We know it's in our own control. We've just got to keep winning games."
The win moved the Hawks into seventh in the West with 47 points, though just five points separate fourth-place Nashville and 13th-place Columbus.
Kane and Hawks captain Jonathan Toews scored in the shootout to end it, but Kane's goal at 7:50 of the third - his first since Nov. 30 -- looked like it might stand up as the game-winner.
If it had, it would've gone against the Hawks' season-long trend of losing tied games in the third. Instead, Ottawa's Milan Michalek tied it 2-2 with just 1:25 left in regulation by putting a rebound past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford to send it to overtime.
Neither team scored in OT. In the shootout, Toews beat Ottawa goalie Brian Elliott through the pads, Alex Kovalev missed the net for the Senators (16-18-5) and Kane beat Elliott over the trapper to the upper part of the net. Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson followed by hitting the left post to end it.
It seemed like a relief for Kane.
"When you finally do see a puck go in, it's good to celebrate," said Kane, who also beat Elliott trapper-side on the goal in regulation. "In the shootout, we were just excited to get two points. That's all that matters."
Sharp scored Chicago's other goal to tie it 1-1 at 4:08 of the second. It was his 24th of the season and also a milestone for his career. In his eighth NHL season, Sharp has now scored 150goals.
"It's a small milestone," he said. "It feels nice now that you can say that, but I hope I have a bunch more."
Alfredsson scored the other goal for the Senators, who've lost four in a row - but only two in regulation.
"We did a lot of good things out there against a team that played with some desperation," Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. "We didn't throw in the towel, (did) good job coming back, but obviously disappointed that we didn't get that extra point."
Neither team scored in the first, but the Senators outshot the Hawks 11-8 and held a 7-0 shots nearly nine minutes into the game. It wasn't as bad of a start for Chicago as its previous two games, but it wasn't good either.
"Not good enough for me," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Better than the last two, but nowhere near good enough."
The Senators struck first on Alfredsson's 13th goal just 49 seconds into the second. It was during the continuation of a power play that started with a hooking penalty by Duncan Keith at the end of the first.
Alfredsson took a cross-ice pass from Erik Karlsson and fired a shot through traffic from the top of the right circle that beat Crawford to his stick side. It was Ottawa's only power play, but was still a stinging hit to the Hawks' penalty-killing unit - which was ranked 28th in the League and allowed Dallas go 3-for-3 on Wednesday.
"It's still something that we have to be better at," Quenneville said. "We can't keep giving up quality (scoring chances). Technically we've got to nail it."
The lead didn't last long thanks to Sharp's goal, and if it weren't for Elliott the Hawks might have taken a lead into the third. Chicago had a great scoring chance thwarted by a diving Elliott save midway through the second off a 2-on-1 rush to keep the game tied to start the third.
It's starting to seem like every Hawks game either heads to the third tied or Chicago gives up a goal in the third to tie it. Chicago has dropped 12 games in regulation that were tied at some point in the third. That's why Kane's goal seemed big as the final couple minutes ticked away.
Watching Michalek tie it up late had to be a little deflating, but the Hawks found a way to get the all-important second point - which is all that Sharp and his teammates care about.
"We're past the halfway point and we all see the standings," Sharp said. "It's going to be important to get as many points as we can. It's never fun giving up a goal in the last couple minutes of the game, but I thought we did a good job of staying composed and getting it into overtime -- then getting two points out of the game."