SAN JOSE, Calif. - Troy Brouwer scored his second goal of the game 1:37 into overtime to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory Thursday night over the San Jose Sharks in a matchup between the NHL's top two teams.
Brouwer scored one of three first-period goals for Chicago, which took a 3-0 lead before the midway point of the frame but needed overtime to beat the Sharks for the third time in four meetings.
The Sharks managed to stay one point ahead of Chicago for the most points in the NHL. This was the final regular-season matchup between the teams. If the standings remain this way, the next time the teams could meet would be in the Western Conference finals.
This game had the intensity of a playoff matchup, especially in the third period when San Jose tied the game and then fought off a late charge from Chicago to send the game into overtime. Brouwer ended it there, as he faked a shot after skating into the offensive zone, moved to the middle and beat Evgeni Nabokov with a wrist shot.
Nabokov was brilliant in the third period, making 19 saves and killing off a late power play that went into the opening minute of overtime.
Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd also scored for the Blackhawks, who have won four straight games in San Jose. Cristobal Huet made 34 saves to earn the win.
Joe Pavelski scored the first two goals for San Jose and Manny Malhotra tied it when he tipped in Rob Blake's shot from the point less than five minutes into the third period. San Jose had its five-game winning streak snapped.
The Blackhawks took control early by scoring three goals in a span of 3:21 in the first period. It was reminiscent of the teams' first meeting here when Chicago broke out to a 7-0 lead before allowing two-late goals. Chicago scored two goals before San Jose managed to put a shot on net, even though the Sharks had an early power play.
Byfuglien got it started when he one-timed a pass to the slot from Patrick Kane past Nabokov for the first goal. Just 48 seconds later, Joe Thornton lost the puck at centre ice to set up a goal by Brouwer. That prompted Sharks coach Todd McLellan to call his timeout but it did nothing to slow the Blackhawks.
Ladd knocked a rebound past Nabokov just over two minutes later to finish the quick barrage and give Chicago a 3-0 lead.
Pavelski made sure this wouldn't be another blowout. He tipped in a centring pass from Marc-Edouard Vlasic to make it 3-1 midway through the first and then beat Huet with a knuckler from the point on the power play with 2:20 remaining in the second to make it a one-goal game.
NOTES: Dany Heatley's assist on Pavelski's second goal was the 600th point of his career. ... Former Sharks D Brian Campbell was booed almost every time he touched the puck for the Blackhawks. ... The Blackhawks finish up an eight-game road trip Saturday in Carolina. ... San Francisco Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval, wearing a black Sharks jersey, dropped the ceremonial first puck. ... Chicago didn't score on its two power-play chances and finished the season 0-for-13 with the man advantage against San Jose.