The Blackhawks took a commanding 3-0 lead in their series with the Sharks with an overtime win on Friday, and they are one win away from their first Stanley Cup Final since 1992.
The Chicago Blackhawks
pulled to within one win of their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1992 when they defeated San Jose in overtime during Friday's Game 3. The win gave the Hawks a 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven Western Conference final series.
Dustin Byfuglien's' goal in overtime gave the Hawks a 3-2 victory over the Sharks as 140 home favorites. The combined five goals ducked below the 5½-goal closing total, allowing the Under to improve to 2-1 in the first three games of this series.
The Hawks, now 4-3 at home in the Stanley Cup playoffs, are 11-0 all-time in series when they have won the first three games.
Byfuglien scored the game-winner 12 minutes, 24 seconds into overtime off a terrific feed from Dave Bolland and sent the United Center crowd of 22,311 into bedlam. Byfuglien cruised into the slot, took a pass from his teammate from behind the Sharks net and rifled a shot past San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.
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Patrick Sharp also scored for Chicago and Jonathan Toews collected two assists. Goaltender Antti Niemi
again was superb as he matched his career high with 44 saves to put the top seed in the Western Conference on the verge of elimination.
Niemi is now 11-4 in the current playoff campaign and 37-11-2-2 overall with a 2.28 GAA and a .915 save percentage. He also has nine shutouts.
Nabokov saw his playoff record slip to 8-4-2. He is 52-20-6-6 overall with a 2.45 GAA and a .920 save percentage. Nabokov has blanked the opposition four times.
Patrick Marleau scored his third and fourth goals of the series to lead a San Jose offense that outshot Chicago, 46-38.
Chicago was 1-for-2 with the man advantage, while San Jose was 1-for-6. The Hawks held the edge in the faceoff circle, 43-32.
After a high-intensity first period ended scoreless, Marleau gave the Sharks the lead with a power-play goal early in the second.
Sharp matched that three minutes later off a cross-crease pass from Toews. The assist extended Toews' point streak to 12 consecutive games to break the all-time Hawks playoff record he had shared with legendary center Stan Mikita.
Bolland's goal came on a breakaway after Toews blocked a Dan Boyle shot in the Hawks zone, but Marleau tied it to send it to overtime.
Chicago is outscoring the opposition at home by an average of 3.15 to 2.48 en route to a sparkling 33-11-2-2 ledger at United Center.
Though the Sharks
are outscoring their opponents on the road by a slim 2.81 to 2.79 margin, they a still a stellar 27-15-4-1 on enemy ice.
Most offshore sports books monitored by the Don Best odds product have installed Chicago as a -170 home favorite on the betting line for Sunday's Game 4 matinee. NBC will televise the contest at noon (PT).