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Toews' OT goal leads Blackhawks past Sharks

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- They weren't able to win the puck-possession battle, but the Chicago Blackhawks still found a way to defeat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in overtime at United Center on Sunday.

Patrick Kane, the NHL's leading scorer, set up captain Jonathan Toews at 2:21 of overtime, one day after Kane scored a late game-tying goal and decided a shootout against the Buffalo Sabres.

Chicago (20-11-4) swept its weekend back-to-back set with a second come-from-behind victory in as many days.

"These are the ones you build on through the year," said Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, who tied the game 3-3 at 6:51 of the third period with his sixth goal. "The team comes together and you find a way to win those tight, close games. You keep doing all those little things right, and good things are going to start going your way."

Things went Chicago's way on the goal by Shaw, who played right wing on Toews' line in place of injured right wing Marian Hossa (upper body). Shaw carried the puck toward the front of the net, had it poked off his stick by Sharks goalie Martin Jones and kicked it right back to his stick for the shot.

"Take pucks to the net, [and] things like that can happen," Shaw said.

Kane, who had two points, scored his 21st goal of the season in the first. It extended his point streak to three games after his 26-game streak ended in a 3-0 loss against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 15.

Duncan Keith had two assists and center Artem Anisimov scored the opening goal for the Blackhawks, who are tied in points (44) in the Central Division with the second-place St. Louis Blues.

It was the second straight loss for the Sharks (16-15-2), who got goals from Joonas Donskoi, Tommy Wingels and Joe Pavelski. Donskoi (one goal, one assist) and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (two assists) each had multi-point games. Jones made 28 saves.

"I think the whole night we felt pretty good about what we were doing," said Pavelski, who scored at 14:45 of the second to put San Jose up 3-2. "It's just those fractions that are certainly the difference lately. We've got to stay with it, because we played a pretty good game. It wasn't good enough. [Chicago is] a good team over there, and they find ways. We needed to find a way tonight and we didn't."

The Blackhawks found a way to victory via Kane for the second time in as many games. Keith sent a pass from the neutral zone to Toews to spark a 2-on-1. Toews sent the puck to Kane, who returned it with a cross-ice feed for the goal, Toews' third in the 3-on-3 overtime format.

Moments earlier, Toews, who played in his 600th NHL game, hit the crossbar with a shot.

"With our skill, most of [the 3-on-3 overtimes] we've dominated," said Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, who made all 33 saves in regulation. "We've kept the puck. I think keeping the puck is most important. When you have the puck in overtime, even if nothing is developing, you come out of the zone and try to re-attack. It's definitely important if we have the puck on our stick."

Crawford allowed more than two goals for the second time in his past 12 starts, but didn't allow a goal in the third against 11 shots. That included back-to-back power plays for San Jose that preceded Shaw's tying goal.

"We had some opportunities there to put one in, a couple of power plays in the third," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think if we got the fourth one, we probably win, but that's why they're as good a team as they are."

San Jose got forward Ben Smith back from an upper-body injury that kept him out 22 games, but played without forwards Joel Ward (undisclosed) and Melker Karlsson (flu).

The play of their replacements drew DeBoer's approval. The Sharks, who finish a five-game road trip at the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, held leads of 2-1 and 3-2.

"That's a good point for us, considering the circumstances coming in here," DeBoer said. "Karlsson went down just before the game, so we're a little shorthanded. [We] gave the young guys a lot of good minutes and they held up. The only thing we didn't do was find a way to get the fourth goal."

Chicago's rookies also contributed. Center Dennis Rasmussen had the primary assist on Kane's goal in the first, after taking the puck hard to the net off the rush, and center Phillip Danault earned his first NHL point with an assist on Shaw's goal.

Rasmussen has played eight games since being recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League; Danault played his second game since being recalled from Rockford.

"It's huge," Shaw said. "You need guys to come up like that with energy. They're going to the net, making plays and it's nice to see that from the young guys."

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