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Sharp's OT goal lifts Hawks to 3-2 win over Kings

by John Kreiser

Not surprisingly, since the opponent was the Los Angeles Kings, Patrick Sharp was in the right place at the right time in overtime.

Dave Bolland picked off Brad Richardson's pass and sent Sharp in on a breakaway. Sharp raced into the Kings' zone, deked goaltender Jonathan Quick to the ice and flipped the puck into the net 2:08 into OT to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 win on Wednesday night.

It was Sharp's second goal of the game -- and his 13th in 15 career games against Los Angeles.

"I saw the bouncing puck there and the L.A. players flooded the zone," Sharp said of the winning goal. "I felt if we could force a turnover, I'd get a chance to sneak in. Bolly made a great play."

For Kings coach Terry Murray, whose team is trying to secure home ice for the first round of the playoffs, the final play was disappointing -- there was no one back to check Sharp and the pass by Richardson was risky.

"You've got to stop and you've got some responsibilities away from the puck. Then the attempted pass is something that you'd like to not see," Murray said.

"The backhand pass through the middle of the ice is a hard one to make. I know what his intentions are, I know they were good. But just on the other side of the checking part of it, we wanted to make sure one of our defensemen is back defending."

The OT goal spoiled an excellent performance by Quick, who made 40 saves.

"I just kind of reacted to what he was doing. He made a good move and beat me there," Quick said of the game-winner.

The win gave the Blackhawks got the extra point -- one that allowed them to tie San Jose for top spot in the West with 93 points. The Sharks technically own first place because they've played one fewer game.

San Jose and Chicago have battled for first place in the West for most of the season.

"Seems like we've been tied with them 30 times this year," Sharp said. "Why not shoot for first in the conference and first in the league? We want to build as the playoffs come on."

The single point left Los Angeles in fifth place, two points behind Phoenix, which won 4-3 over Vancouver in a shootout.

"We'll take it," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "We want two, but at this point in the year, you take whatever you can get. I thought we battled hard. One mistake and it's in our net, but mistakes happen in the game. If we don't make that mistake, maybe we go to a shootout and win, but we battled hard. It just didn't go our way."

Sharp opened the scoring for Chicago 2:34 into the game. Brown tied it on a wraparound past Antti Niemi 4:58 into the second period, and Anze Kopitar put the Kings ahead at 6:50 with his 31st of the season, a power-play wrister from the right circle.

Kris Versteeg tied it at 2-2 when he banged a rebound past Quick at 8:25.

Niemi stopped a breakaway attempt by Michal Handzus early in the third and seconds later snuffed an attempt from close in by Wayne Simmonds.

"It's a very difficult team to play against. There's a lot of sorting out, a lot of reads you have to make," Murray said of the Blackhawks. "At the end, we just didn't make the right one."

Chicago's Adam Burish, playing his first game of the season after knee surgery, took a pass behind the net and fed Sharp, who whiffed and then scored on his second try for a 1-0 lead. Seconds later Burish dropped the gloves with the Kings' Rich Clune and the fight brought a rousing cheer from the crowd at the UnitedCenter.

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

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