Thrashers fall to Chicago in shootout, 5-4

CHICAGO (AP) Jonathan Toews scored the lone shootout goal to give the Chicago Blackhawks their third straight victory, 5-4 over the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night.

Chicago’s Dave Bolland scored early in the third period to tie it at 4 and set up overtime after Atlanta erased a 3-1 deficit in the second and held a 4-3 lead after 40 minutes.

Patrick Sharp, Kim Johnsson and Marian Hossa also connected for the Blackhawks, and Sharp had two assists.

Hossa scored his NHL-leading fifth short-handed goal, and Johnsson, a defenseman, connected in his first game with the Blackhawks. He was acquired Friday along with Nick Leddy in a deal that sent Cam Barker to Minnesota.

Atlanta’s Evander Kane, Maxim Afinogenov and Tobias Enstrom scored in the second period as the Thrashers erased a 3-1 deficit. Jim Slater also scored in the first for the Thrashers, 2-0-2 in their last four.

Atlanta’s Ondrej Pavelec stopped 36 shots through overtime, and was sharp late in the game to force the shootout.

Chicago rookie backup goalie Antti Niemi made 23 saves, but allowed soft goals to Slater and Afinogenov, as he started his third straight game for the first time this season.

Slater opened the scoring 3:41 in when he flipped a shot from the right side of the net past Niemi’s pad.

Sharp, Johnsson and Hossa then scored on consecutive Chicago shots to put the Blackhawks ahead 3-1.

Sharp’s power-play goal, only Chicago’s second in 25 chances, tied it at 1 at 7:31. Johnsson put the Blackhawks ahead 2-1 at 9:44 when he pinched to the slot, took Patrick Kane’s centering feed and fired a low screened shot past Pavelec.

Hossa’s short-handed goal with 6:46 left in the first made it 3-1. He skated in 2-on-1 with Jonathan Toews and beat Pavelec high on the glove side.

Evander Kane, Afinigenov and Enstrom scored in the second to put Atlanta ahead 4-3.

Evander Kane beat Niemi between the legs from the left circle 4:09 of the second cut it to 3-2 after taking Johnny Oduya’s backhand cross-ice pass. Afinogenov tied it with 6:30 left in the second when his shot from a sharp angle on the left side struck Niemi, but trickled past him.

Enstrom’s power-play goal, on a screeened drive from the top of the slot with 1:21 remaining in the period, made it 4-3.

Bolland tied it at 4 during a 4-on-4 at 4:21 of the third when he faked Pavelec to the ice and tucked in a shot from the left edge of the crease.

Pavelec made several close-in saves late in the third as Chicago pressured and outshot Atlanta 14-4 in the period. He was sharp again in overtime as the Blackhawks outshot the Thrashers 5-3.

NOTES: The crowd of 22,275 was the Blackhawks’ largest this season and their 81st straight sellout. … Atlanta played its final game before the Olympic break. Five Thrashers will compete in the Olympic Games Pavelec and D Pavel Kubina (Czech Republic), D Enstrom and D Johnny Oduya (Sweden), and RW Afinogenov (Russia). … Chicago plays one more game, at Columbus on Sunday, before the break. Six Blackhawks will head to Vancouver D Duncan Keith, D Brent Seabrook and C Jonathan Toews (Canada), RW Patrick Kane (U.S.) and RW Hossa and RW Tomas Kopecky (Slovakia). … Chicago C John Madden missed the game with a lower-body injury and is expected to return following the Olympic break. Blackhawks LW Ben Eager missed his third game with a lower-body injury … Atlanta D Mark Popovic sat out his second game with upper-body injury.

Updated February 13, 2010