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Sharp's overtime goal leads Blackhawks past Stars

by Brian Hedger /

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks played the role of spoiler at United Center on Sunday.

Just as the Dallas Stars could almost taste their first sweep of a back-to-back set this season, the Blackhawks dashed those hopes with a resilient 5-4 victory when Patrick Sharp scored at 1:17 of overtime.

The Blackhawks got a game-tying goal by center Brad Richards at 16:03 of the third period. Richards' goal, scored from a sharp angle, was the fourth time Chicago (26-11-2) battled back from a one-goal deficit.

"A couple of times this year we’ve been down late in the game and found a way to tie it up," said Sharp, who scored his eighth goal. "It speaks to really, a total team effort. We have a number of guys who want to score that goal and a good team system that allows us to get those chances. Big goal [by Richards] to tie it up and we stole the two points."

Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell scored the other goals for Chicago. Defenseman Duncan Keith and right wing Marian Hossa each finished with two assists. Sharp and Richards each had assists to go with their goals.

Left wing Erik Cole scored two goals and an assist to lead the Stars (18-14-6), who'd won eight of their previous nine games and had a four-game winning streak end. Left wing Jamie Benn and defenseman Jordie Benn scored the other goals for Dallas, which is now 0-5-0 in the second half of back-to-back sets.

Cole's second goal, scored at 4:05 of the third, was nearly the difference. The Blackhawks simply kept pressing until it wasn't. The Stars let off the gas pedal just enough, and it wound up costing them a point.

"We were also on the ice for two goals against, including the winner," Cole said of his line, which includes Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky. "If you're not keeping the puck out of your own net, then you're not really doing yourself any favors. I think as a group we're coming to the realization that we need to defend better. When we do that we get more chances offensively."

Despite the loss, the Stars have scored 17 combined goals in the past three games.

"It’s a tough way to lose," Spezza said. "We felt like we should’ve won this game. When you have the lead with a little time left in the third, I think we expect to win. That shows that we’re gaining confidence as a team."

Each team scored early.

Jamie Benn's goal, which he put in off a rebound, got things started 3:59 into the game. It set off a string of alternating goals through the rest of regulation. The Blackhawks countered with Saad's goal at 5:14 and the score remained 1-1 until the second.

Jordie Benn put Dallas back in front 2-1 at 2:15 of the second with his first goal of the season, but Chicago quickly tied it again on Kane's 19th goal at 3:58 off a cross-ice feed by Sharp. Cole roofed a shot from the side of the net at 4:43 to put Dallas back up 3-2, but Bickell sent it to the third tied 3-3 by tipping a shot past Lehtonen at 18:05 on a power play.

Cole's second goal came next. Standing alone in front of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford (30 saves), he deflected a shot by defenseman Alex Goligoski off the right post and into the net for his ninth goal.

Richards tied it nearly 12 minutes later by simply swatting the puck toward the net from the left corner off a miss by Hossa. It snuck between goalie Kari Lehtonen (33 saves) and the left post to once again give Chicago new life.

Overtime started with a furious rally. The Blackhawks forced Lehtonen to make several big saves to keep the game going before Crawford nearly gave the second point away at the other end with a turnover.

A sliding skate save by defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson extended the game for Sharp, who took a slap pass from Keith and buried a close-range wrist shot under Lehtonen's blocker to end it.

"You always know you’re going to get a big play out of someone on this team," Richards said. "We just kept relying on that and kept clawing our way back and then took it over in overtime."

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