Sharks beat Blackhawks 3-2 in shootout

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CHICAGO (AP) — San Jose coach Todd McLellan gushed about the Sharks’ defense and effort. He also praised goalie Alex Stalock.

What a difference a day makes.

Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski scored in a shootout, and the Sharks beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Sunday night for their first victory in Chicago in three years.

“This was the best defensive effort we’ve had in this building in a while,” McLellan said.

Stalock made 33 saves through overtime as San Jose bounced back from a 4-3 loss at Colorado on Saturday. Jason Demers scored in the first period, and Brett Burns had a tying goal in the third.

The Sharks allowed the first four goals in the loss to the Avalanche, and McLellan pulled Antti Niemi early in the second period in favor of Stalock. McLellan then talked about holding the goalies accountable in 2014, along with the rest of the team.

“It’s hard to demand perfection, but you have to demand as close as you can get to that,” McLellan said. “The players tonight gave us that. It still was a tough task. To score only two and win a game against Chicago, you’ve done something pretty well.”

Couture beat Corey Crawford with a shot into the right side of the net after Stalock stopped Chicago captain Jonathan Toews leading off the shootout. Patrick Sharp then shot wide before Pavelski scored to give the Sharks their first win at the United Center since Dec. 30, 2010.

Crawford made 40 saves in his first home start since he left Chicago’s 6-2 victory over Florida on Dec. 8 because of a lower-body injury. He came back on Thursday and stopped 31 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss at the New York Islanders.

“It’s a tough loss to take when you’re down by a goal, get up by one, and they tie it up again,” Crawford said. “The shootout wasn’t close, obviously. Tough loss.”

Defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Michal Rozsival scored in the third period for the Blackhawks (29-7-9), who have earned at least one point in their last 10 games. It was their fifth home shootout loss.

“We’ve lost a few in a row here and I think it could be a little bit uncomfortable, or a lack of confidence, but we’ve got to work our way through it,” coach Joel Quenneville said of the shootout trouble. “We’ve left a lot of points on the board.

“We could have put ourself in a better spot than we’re at. That’s been a sour spot recently.”

San Jose (27-10-6) trailed 2-1 before Joe Thornton made a great pass across the crease to Burns, who slammed the puck in at 11:10 of the third. Thornton has 12 assists during an eight-game point streak, running his NHL-best total to 43 on the season.

San Jose had dropped six straight in Chicago by a combined score of 24-11, including a 5-1 loss on Nov. 17. The Sharks and Blackhawks are two of the top teams in the Western Conference.

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