CHICAGO – A perfect homestand against the Western Conference elite reminded the Chicago Blackhawks just how good they are.
“We feel we can win any night, against any team,” said Brent Seabrook, whose goal 41 seconds into overtime Sunday night lifted the Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. “We have a great group … and we want to prove that.”
By rallying from a two-goal deficit to defeat the team with the NHL’s best record, Chicago completed a 4-0 homestand that also included games against Colorado and Los Angeles. The Blackhawks, who reached the conference finals six months ago, have won seven consecutive home games.
“Down two against a top team like that, you’re not very often going to come back and get (the victory),” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “You’ve got to take advantage of home ice. We’ve been pretty effective to date.”
At 10-2-1, the Blackhawks have the league’s best home record. They hadn’t won seven straight at the United Center since midway through the 2001-02 season. Chicago begins a six-game road trip Thursday and doesn’t return home until Dec. 1.
Seabrook has two goals this season – both OT winners.
Evgeni Nabokov made a nice save on Troy Brouwer but Jonathan Toews chased down the puck, skated in front of the net and fed Seabrook, who scored on a wrister from the slot.
The Sharks extended their streak of games with at least a point to 12 (9-0-3). They haven’t had a regulation defeat since Oct. 22 at Tampa Bay, but Sunday’s result came only three nights after a shootout loss to Dallas in which they also blew a two-goal lead.
“You’ve got to bear down, hold on to those games,” Sharks centre Joe Pavelski said. “It is the second time in three games and maybe it’s an issue, but I don’t think so. We’re pretty resilient.”
Chicago’s Brent Sopel and San Jose’s Dany Heatley scored in the first period. It was Heatley’s 14th goal, tying him for the NHL lead.
Rookie defenceman Jason Demers scored his first career goal and Patrick Marleau followed 45 seconds later with his league-high ninth road goal to put the Sharks up 3-1 early in the second period.
Midway through the second, Patrick Kane beat Nabokov from the left circle after taking a nice centring feed from Toews. Kane has a seven-game point streak.
San Jose had two chances later in the period to regain its two-goal lead. At 13:43, a video review confirmed the puck didn’t cross the goal line after a scramble in front of Chicago goalie Cristobal Huet. About two minutes later, Marleau’s shot hit the crossbar.
“Sometimes the hockey gods don’t work in your favour,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “If we could have gotten the fourth one, it could have worked in our favour. But they fought back, and that’s what good teams do.”
The Blackhawks capitalized on their good fortune, tying it on John Madden’s rebound goal with 1:19 left in the period.
Each goalie made several nice saves in the scoreless third period. Huet ensured the game would go into overtime when he kicked aside Scott Nichol’s 30-foot slap shot with 12 seconds left in regulation.
Notes: Blackhawks LW Kris Versteeg sat out with what Quenneville called a “short-term” upper-body injury. … The Sharks, who have scored on almost a third of their road power-play opportunities, became the first team in seven games to score with a man-advantage against the Blackhawks. … The crowd of 21,130 was a Chicago season high. … The Blackhawks honoured former all-star Jeremy Roenick, who finished his 20-year career last season as a member of the Sharks. Roenick scored 267 of his 513 career goals during his eight years with the Blackhawks, who drafted him in 1988.