As in 13 games without a regulation loss this season at HP Pavilion. As in 13 consecutive victories over the Chicago Blackhawks.
This one was a struggle. With Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov playing his first game in nearly three weeks Wednesday, San Jose needed an overtime goal by Joe Thornton to secure the 3-2 victory that raised its NHL -best record to 18-3-1.
"It was a 50-50 night," Sharks Coach Todd McLellan said. "We got the last shot on goal and it went our way."
That last shot came 45 seconds into overtime and only after Thornton won an individual battle that kept Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith from clearing the zone.
"The ice wasn't so good tonight and the puck was bouncing all over the place," Thornton said of the play. "Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't."
Once Thornton had control of the puck, he started and finished a quick give-and-go with Ryane Clowe to beat Blackhawks goalie Cristobal Huet, who entered the game late in the second period when starter Nikolai Khabibulin had to leave because of a lower-body injury.
"Clowe made a great play," McLellan said, "but Joe had the sense to jump by the defenseman and go to the net. That's something we've stressed, and he's done a good job of that this year."
The Sharks had three days between games and were hoping they wouldn't get off to the same sluggish start they did Saturday against Washington under similar circumstances.
They didn't, outshooting Chicago 17-2 in the first period and finally taking a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Rob Blake at 19:43. It was the 129th power-play goal of the defenseman's career, tying him with Phil Housley for fourth place in NHL history.
The Blackhawks seemed to find their legs in the second period, tying things up on a goal by Jonathan Toews at 12:43.
The Sharks found themselves in trouble later in the period when Mike Grier's hit on Chicago defenseman Aaron Johnson earned the Sharks right wing a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct at 15:24.
Grier used his shoulder to drive Johnson into the boards, and the defenseman remained on the ice for several minutes before leaving the game, clutching his left side.
"I was just trying to finish my check," Grier said. "I don't know if he didn't see me or what, but I guess I kind of caught him by surprise."
The Sharks did get through the end of the period unscathed, but only because defenseman Dan Boyle came to Nabokov's rescue. With Chicago right wing Martin Havlat holding the puck and Nabokov out of position, Boyle dropped to the ice and slid into the crease just as Havlat shot, keeping the puck out of the back of the net.
"Once I saw Nabby got beat, I just kind of dove and was praying basically and happy it hit me," Boyle said.
A subsequent penalty to Boyle for hooking at 19:59, however, meant the Blackhawks started the third period with a 5-on-3 advantage, and the Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead when Toews converted a centering pass at 0:23.
The Sharks evened things up at 8:13 when Thornton got the puck to Patrick Marleau behind the net and he scored on a wraparound. Devin Setoguchi got an assist on the play, meaning the line's point-scoring streak was extended to six games.
"I thought we were like a rubber band," McLellan said of his team's inconsistent effort. "We were all over the map, stretched one way, then rebounded the other."
Check out David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Sharks . Contact him at email@example.com or (408) 920-5940.