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San Jose Sharks Douglas Murray (L) checks Chicago Blackhawks Andrew Ladd into the boards during the third period in Game 3 of their NHL Western Conference final hockey game in Chicago, May 21, 2010. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes



The Blackhawks played most of the game without Andrew Ladd who left the game early in the first with an undisclosed injury and didn't return. Without Ladd, the Blackhawks played with 11 forwards and rotated a couple of fourth liners, Ben Eager and John Madden, up onto the checking line with Dave Bolland and Kris Versteeg. Eager set up Bolland's second-period goal with 1:22 to go in the period to square it at two and shift the momentum squarely onto Chicago's side. Duncan Keith also missed the middle part of the second period after losing an undisclosed number of teeth after stopping a puck in the mush. Keith returned and still saw a game high of 29:02 of action.


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The Sharks were the far more disciplined team overall in the series, but three third-period penalties - including a slashing call against Dany Heatley with 7:48 to go in regulation - ultimately proved to be their undoing. The Blackhawks Dustin Byfuglien scored the game winner with Heatley in the box, serving his second minor of the game.


Two of San Jose's longest serving players, Patrick Marleau and goaltender Evgeni Nakobov are unrestricted free agents, though Marleau's five goals in the series may convince the Sharks to sign him again. Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi are restricted free agents, and Pavelski for sure will need to get a raise. Team captain Rob Blake may retire, creating a void in the leadership group. It means Sharks' general manager Doug Wilson faces a busy summer, trying to figure out what happens next - and how radical should the changes be, after the Sharks made their deepest playoff incursion in six years.

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About the Author

Eric was the winner of the Hockey Hall Of Fame's Elmer Ferguson award for "distinguished contributions to hockey writing" in 2001. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario's grad school of journalism, he began covering hockey in 1978 and after spending 20 years covering the NHL and the Calgary Flames, joined The Globe in 2000. More

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