Blackhawks' Brouwer puts bite on Sharks

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SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) - Chicago's Troy Brouwer scored early in overtime to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks in a Western Conference showdown Thursday.

Brouwer, who also scored in regulation, delivered a game-winning wrist shot at 1:37 in overtime after the Blackhawks had squandered a 3-0 lead.

"Toward the end of the third period, we were getting chances and we got some momentum," Brouwer told reporters. "We really felt like we were going to win that game going into overtime."

Dustin Byfuglien, Brouwer and Andrew Ladd had given the Central division leaders a 3-0 lead by 8:23 of the first period before the Sharks fought back.

San Jose's (35-10-9) Joe Pavelski scored midway through the first to cut the deficit to 3-1, and again late in the second to narrow the Hawks' lead to one.

Manny Malhotra forced the extra session with a tip-in at 4:56 in the third.

"The start was unacceptable," said San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "We're all going to talk about how hard we fought and that we worked our way back into the game.

"But that start was unacceptable. The mistakes we made in the first five minutes of the game -- that's not a characteristic of ours."

Despite the shaky start, Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov finished with 35 saves while Cristobal Huet had 34 stops for the Blackhawks (37-13-4), who moved within one point of San Jose for top spot in the overall NHL standings.

With the loss, the Sharks had their five-game winning streak snapped. Chicago improved to 5-2-0 on its road trip which ends on Saturday Carolina.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Alastair Himmer)