In their ongoing quest for the eighth and final playoff spot, the Sharks traveled to Chicago Sunday night to take on the Blackhawks. An overtime goal by Tom Preissing gave the Sharks a 5-4 victory in what was a see-saw contest from start to finish.
After a night of milestones in Minnesota the night before, the Sharks stuck with the hot hand when they sent Vesa Toskala to faceoff against Nikolai Khabibulin.
Patrick Rissmiller started the scoring off early when he snapped a wrist shot five-hole past Khabibulin. The tally gave the Sharks an early 1-0 lead, just three minutes into the game.
No more than 30 seconds later, an odd man rush for Chicago led to a goal when Mark Cullen fed a perfect one-time pass to Radim Vrbata. Just like that the score was 1-1 with more than 16 minutes still remaining in the opening frame.
The dynamic duo of Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Thornton
caused havoc in Chicago’s end midway through the first when they amassed more than five quality scoring chances on Khabibulin, but were unable to find the back of the net.
Rob Davison was given a four minute penalty for high sticking former Shark Curtis Brown with 6:22 left in the first. It took 57 seconds for the Hawks to convert when Michael Holmqvist tipped in a puck that was fired on goal off the stick of Mark Bell. The Blackhawks now had a 2-1 lead.
The see-saw battle continued, however, as just one minute later, Steve Bernier found a loose puck in front of the net after a Cheechoo shot deflected off Khabibulin. The game was now tied at two apiece.
The game remained tied at two when the teams headed to the locker room for the first intermission.
When play resumed, Christian Ehrhoff was called for interference, and San Jose found themselves a man down, but Chicago couldn’t capitalize with the advantage.
Seven minutes into the second, Vrbata struck again. The right wing wristed a shot from the left faceoff circle that Toskala lost in traffic. The notch gave Chicago their second lead of the game.
It wasn’t until late in the second period when the lamp would be lit again. This time it was Nils Ekman who retied the game with just under two minutes left in the second after he received a pass from behind the net from Joe Thornton
With just eight seconds left, the Sharks headed to the power play for the first time in the contest after Ekman was high-sticked. Brent Seabrook was given four minutes for the double-minor as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
When play resumed in the third, the Sharks had nearly a full four minutes of power play time, but Team Teal couldn’t get on past Khabibulin despite rattling off a few shots.
On a great individual effort from Mark Smith, the Sharks took a 4-3 lead with just over 12 minutes remaining in the game. The center fired a shot on goal that was stopped by Khabibulin, but Smith didn’t stop there. He corralled the loose puck, skated it around the net, and forced it past Khabibulin who was out of position.
With two minutes remaining in the game, Scott Hannan was called for delay of game when he shot a puck out of play. With 1:30 left, the Blackhawks pulled Khabibulin to make it a six-on-four situation. Immediately after, Kyle Calder tipped in a loose puck in front of the net, tying the game at four with 1:12 left to play.
On a two-on-one break for the Sharks, Ekman was held from behind by Jim Vandermeer
, earning the Sharks a power play with 27 seconds left in regulation. There was not enough time left for the Sharks to capitalize in regulation, and the game headed to overtime.
An outstanding play by Ehrhoff nearly ended the game early in the overtime stanza when he quickly skated a puck around the net and fed Cheechoo out front. Cheechoo rang a shot off the post, and the Hawks escaped danger.
That wouldn’t last long, however, as Preissing won the game when he riffled a slapshot past Khabibulin. The Sharks skated off with the 5-4 overtime victory.
The Sharks will travel to Columbus on Tuesday to take on the Blue Jackets at 4 p.m. in the final game of their five-game road trip. The game can be seen on FSN Bay Area and heard on the Sharks Radio Network or sjsharks.com.