Blackhawks get 3-2 shootout win over Carolina

The Blackhawks once again leapt out to a lead over their opponent ... and once again, let their opponents back into the game, survived overtime, and managed a win in the shootout.

It's been an all-too-common refrain for the Blackhawks, not only this season, which is less than 10 games old, but from past seasons: Chicago delivers a solid first period, hits cruise control in the second, and scrambles to not give the game away in the third.

Is it a cycle that will stop any time soon? The Blackhawks should know from experience that as defending Stanley Cup champs, every opposing team will bring their "A" game, every single night.

Additionally, under the new playoff/wild card format, the Blackhawks can't afford to be giving away free points to opponents - particularly division and conference rivals - as the season rolls on. The Blackhawks desperately need to learn how to keep their foot on the gas for an entire 60 minutes and ensure that they put opponents away early - and keep them there.

Patrick Sharp was able to notch his 200th NHL goal 7:56 into the first. Marian Hossa would make the score 2-2 less than three minutes later. Chicago dominated the period, as evidenced by a 15-5 SOG differential, and controlled play most of the period.

The Blackhawks would preserve the score through the second, but the Hurricanes delivered much more pressure - and 14 SOG - that period. In fact, Carolina nearly tripled their first period shot output (5). Chicago's output dropped from 15 to 8.

Alexander Semin would break the shutout at 3:54 in the fourth, making it 2-1. Ron Hainsey, who had a personal goal drought dating back to March 2011, would tie things up 2-2 with an unassisted goal at 12:33.

Despite excellent pressure from the Hurricanes, Corey Crawford closed the door and took the Blackhawks into overtime, where he would continue his efforts, espeically after Bryan Bickell took a hooking penalty halfway through the OT.

Crawford then went 3 for 3 on the shootout, while Patrick Sharp scored the only goal, for a 3-2 win.

Coincidentially, Patrick Sharp's second daughter was born this past weekend, and for the second time in a row, he had the GWG on the first game after the birth of one of his children. After the game, Sharp said he saved the SO puck and stick from the game for his newest daughter, Sadie.

It was the Blackhawks' 2,500th regular-season win in franchaise history, and their first win on Carolina ice since the late 1990s.

Slap shots:

- Carolina led 60% on the faceoff dot. They also led in hits, 31-20. The Staal brothers combined for 30 of 49 faceoffs won between them.

- While the Blackhawks outshot Carolina 36-34, the Hurricanes had 26 shots blocked and 11 missed the net, compared to 13/15 for Chicago.

- With tonight's win, Corey Crawford's stats this season improve to 3-1-1, 2.33 GAA, and .917 sv%.

Three stars:

1) Corey Crawford - CHI (2 GAA, .941 sv%)
2) Cam Ward - CAR (2 GAA, .944 sv%)
3) Marian Hossa - CHI (1G, +2, 4 SOG; 16:20 TOI)

The Blackhawks return to action on Thursday night when they welcome the St. Louis Blues to the United Center at 7 p.m. CDT.

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