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Hawks hold off Sharks in SO

THE Chicago Blackhawks staved off a late rally to record a 6-5 shootout win over the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews scored in the shootout for the Blackhawks, who wasted an early three-goal lead to emerge with a win that gives them sole possession of fourth spot in the Western Conference with 10 games left.

Andrew Ladd scored twice in regulation for the host Chicago (39-22-11) and Martin Havlat and Dustin Byfuglien also tallied, while San Jose winger Devin Setoguchi found the net on two occasions in his team's first loss in four games.

Setoguchi's snap shot at 14:53 in the third period pulled the Sharks (48-14-11) back to 5-4 and cleared the way for Joe Thornton's game-tying wrister with 2:08 remaining.

After a scoreless overtime period, San Jose's Joe Pavelski and Jeremy Roenick both missed opportunities in the shootout against Chicago netminder Nikolai Khabibulin, who finished with 23 saves.

Elsewhere in the National Hockey League, it was: Sabres 5, Panthers 3; Hurricanes 2, Senators 1; Wild 6, Islanders 2; Penguins2, Flames 0; and Ducks 7, Avalanche 2.

In Buffalo, New York, Jason Pominville had a goal and two assists during a 2:07 span of the third period, leading the Sabres to a comeback victory over the Florida Panthers.

Tim Connolly scored the go-ahead goal to cap the surge and added an assist for a Buffalo team that overcame a 1-3 deficit and won for only the second time in eight games (2-5-1). Clarke MacArthur, Craig Rivet and Maxim Afinogenov also scored for the Sabres, who needed a win to avoid falling further out of playoff contention.

With 78 points and nine games left, Buffalo remains in 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings, but moved within five points of eighth-place Montreal.

Ninth-place Florida not only squandered a two-goal lead, but also an opportunity to move into a tie with Montreal. Brett McLean had a goal and assist, and Richard Zednik and Michael Frolik also scored for Florida, 1-4-3 in its past eight games.


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