CHICAGO (AP) — Despite squandering a late lead, the San Jose Sharks still managed to keep winning.
Kevin Labanc scored the deciding goal in the fourth round of a shootout and San Jose beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Monday night for its eighth straight victory.
Labanc almost pulled to a stop in front of Chicago goalie Anton Forsberg, faked and then lifted in a nifty backhander. Logan Couture also connected in the tiebreaker for the surging Sharks, whose winning streak is their longest in seven years.
“We found a way,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “I don’t know any other way to put it.”
Chicago’s Patrick Sharp tied it at 3 with 2:22 left in the third period with a shot from the slot that hit Martin Jones’ blocker and then tumbled into the net. Tomas Hertl had put the Sharks ahead 3-2 just 1:57 earlier with his 21st goal.
“It wasn’t pretty for a lot of it, but we found a way to win,” Jones said. “We’ve been doing that a lot lately, so that’s a good sign.”
Jones might not have looked great on Sharp’s goal, but he made 28 saves through overtime and stopped three of four Blackhawks in the shootout. The veteran goalie came up with several point-blank saves in the third period and stoned Patrick Kane late in overtime.
“We wouldn’t be where we’re at (without Jones) and we sure wouldn’t have an eight-game winning streak,” DeBoer said. “He’s been our best player a lot of nights in the last month.”
The Sharks solidified their grip on a playoff spot and home-ice advantage in the first round.
San Jose’s Evander Kane scored his 28th goal — his third in two games and eighth in 13 since being acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline. Marcus Sorensen also had a goal for the Sharks.
Rookie forward Alex DeBrincat had his 26th goal and an assist, and Connor Murphy scored his second for the last-place Blackhawks, who have lost six of seven. Forsberg turned aside 35 shots through overtime.
“I thought we played pretty well,” DeBrincat said. “We gave up a late goal, but we responded well.”
Eventually, the Sharks had more going for them.
“I thought there were some decent things,” Chicago coach Joel Quennevillle said, “but they’re definitely playing well.”
Chicago center Victor Ejdsell made his NHL debut and started the game on a line between Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad. The 6-foot-5, 22-year-old Swede was acquired from Nashville on Feb. 26 in a trade that sent Ryan Hartman to the Predators.
Sorensen opened the scoring 9:15 in, sliding a one-timer under Forsberg’s right skate from the edge of the crease after taking Jannik Hansen’s centering pass.
DeBrincat and Murphy scored 1:18 apart late in the first to give Chicago a 2-1 lead.
DeBrincat fired in a rebound with 4:28 left in the period — and 12 seconds after a Chicago power play had lapsed — to cap a rush. Murphy then connected on a shot from the right point as San Jose defenseman Brenden Dillon screened Jones.
Evander Kane tied it at 2 with 3:21 left in the second, finishing a breakaway set up by Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook’s turnover inside the San Jose blue line. Set up by Mikkel Boedker’s stick, Evander Kane streaked in alone and beat Forsberg with a shot that trickled between the goalie’s legs.
In the third, Jones made a point-blank save on Artem Anisimov’s tip about eight minutes in. He denied Ejdsell and Hinostroza from the doorstep midway through the period.
After outbattling Chicago defenseman Erik Gustafsson on the right boards, Hertl sprinted to the net and beat Forsberg on the glove side to give San Jose a 3-2 lead with 4:19 left.
In overtime, Jones made a diving, close-in save on Patrick Kane with 1:20 left. Forsberg made a pad save on Evander Kane on a breakaway with 22 seconds to go.
NOTES: Sharks C Eric Fehr sat out with a lower-body injury, but Couture was back in the lineup after missing the end of San Jose’s 5-1 win over Calgary on Saturday with an illness. ... Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (upper body) sat out his third game and forward Anthony Duclair (lower body) missed his eighth. Both are day to day. ... The Sharks signed University of Denver forward Dylan Gambrell to an entry-level contract, one day after his college season ended with a loss to Ohio State in an NCAA regional final. Gambrell, 21, was a second-round pick by San Jose in 2016. ... Chicago prospect and forward Dylan Sikura, who signed a two-year contact with the Blackhawks on Sunday after Northeastern University was eliminated from an NCAA regional, joined the team. The 22-year-old from Aurora, Ontario, is expected to make his debut Thursday against Winnipeg after immigration formalities are settled.
Sharks: At the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday in the second of a four-game trip.
Blackhawks: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday
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