For the fourth game in a row, the Chicago Blackhawks trailed going into the third period, this time against the Dallas Stars, but for the fourth game in a row they were able to come back and eventually won a 2-1 decision in the shootout when Ben Smith fired a shot past Kari Lehtonen to conclude the 11th round.
The victory was the Hawks’ fifth straight on their current seven game road trip, and it also gave them a bit of breathing room in the NHL Central as the St. Louis Blues fell to the San Jose Sharks. Patrick Sharp scored the game-tying goal in the third period of the game, and Corey Crawford made 28 saves and stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced in the shootout as the Hawks came out victorious.
The game started out without many scoring opportunities in either direction, as both teams had some difficulty in establishing possession early on. The Hawks were especially dormant on offense, but they did pick up a couple of decent chances early on, with Jonathan Toews’ shot hitting Marian Hossa in the crease on a 2-on-1 rush, and Brent Seabrook had a good shot blocked by Erik Cole on a pinch in from the blue line to keep the game scoreless.
The Stars did have a couple of chances of their own, with Ryan Garbutt having the best chance of all when he was able to intercept a pass from Brent Seabrook and was robbed by Crawford on the glove side. The turnover by Seabrook was part of a series of bad decisions with the puck that the Hawks made in the period, but they weren’t able to convert on any of the chances as Crawford stood strong.
That trend did not last throughout the frame however, as Crawford misplayed a puck in behind the net and ended up allowing Rich Peverley to score into an empty net to give Dallas a 1-0 lead. Nick Leddy attempted a pass to Marcus Kruger at the line, and the dish was poked towards the crease, and then Crawford didn’t go after the puck aggressively enough, and the Stars made him pay.
The second period started out with a bit less urgency than the first did, and there weren’t many good chances in either direction. The Stars did get a great one about three minutes in though when Alex Chiasson ended up getting a partial breakaway against Keith and Seabrook. Seabrook ended up tripping Chiasson on the break, and he was awarded his first career penalty shot as a result. Even though the ensuing shot evaded Crawford, it rang off the post, and the score remained 1-0.
The Hawks didn’t seem to get much momentum from the narrow miss by the Stars, as they continued to have trouble holding onto the puck. Repeated attempts to clear the defensive zone ended up failing, and even though the Stars still couldn’t take advantage of the miscues, it was still distressing to see guys like Brandon Pirri try to clear the zone and be unable to move the puck past the blue line.
Chicago did catch a nice break when Peverley was sent to the box for a tripping penalty in the offensive zone, but the first really good chance went to the Stars as Cody Eakin started out on a 2-on-1 rush that ended up being shot just wide. Unfortunately for the Stars, Stephane Robidas ended up suffering a broken leg on the next play, as the Stars’ defenseman seemed to step on a shot that Toews put toward the net, and his leg ended up rolling up underneath him.
Understandably, the next few minutes of the game didn’t feature much in the way of scoring chances, with the Hawks only ending up with one shot on goal on their man-advantage. The Stars did get a power play shortly after the Hawks did, but they weren’t able to convert as Crawford made several clutch saves despite having a lot of traffic in front of the net.
The Hawks got a serious scare late in the second period as Patrick Kane got decked in front of the Dallas net by Antoine Roussel, and Kane ended up motionless on the ice for several seconds. The officials missed that play, but they did end up tagging both Sharp and Trevor Daley for minor penalties in a neutral zone fracas that ensued shortly after. The 4-on-4 that resulted from those penalties was fruitless for both sides, and Dallas remained up 1-0 after two periods.
Little by little in the third period, the Hawks began to build some good momentum, and they eventually cashed in about eight minutes into the frame. Keith made a nice play at the blue line to keep a Dallas pass in the zone, and on a rush to the net, it was Sharp that got his stick onto the puck, and his deflection beat Lethonen to tie things up at 1-1.
The game stayed tied through the rest of the third period, as each team did pick up some quality chances, but Lehtonen and Crawford were both up to the task. Crawford especially had to deal with a lot of traffic in front of his cage, and several shoving matches took place as the Hawks tried to keep guys like Roussel from taking liberties near the blue paint. Lehtonen did stop Kane on a great chance off a pass from the end boards too, but the Hawks couldn’t get much of a sustained possession in the late stages of the third period.
Kane did get a great opportunity to replicate his last-minute heroics against the Calgary Flames, but with less than a minute to go, Kane was stuffed by Lehtonen on a shot from the doorstep to keep the game tied. Kris Versteeg put a nice pass onto Kane’s stick on the play, but Lehtonen kept tight to the post and prevented a goal from being scored, and as a result the game went to overtime.
The overtime period came and went without many chances for either team, and the teams had to go to a shootout to resolve their differences. On the Hawks’ second attempt, Sharp was able to beat Lehtonen with a nifty backhand to forehand deke that beat the Stars’ goaltender to the glove side, but Peverley was able to answer with a great wrist shot past Crawford on Dallas’ third attempt to extend the shootout.
The shootout went on and on, with Crawford making seven saves on the Stars’ remaining eight chances (Jordie Benn missed the net), and even though Lehtonen was able to match Crawford with five saves of his own to go along with two Chicago misses, it was ultimately Smith that was able to fire a shot past Lehtonen’s glove to end the game and give the Hawks their fifth straight win.
The Hawks will now head to Phoenix for a Saturday night showdown with the Coyotes to wrap up their circus trip, and they will be looking to finish out the journey on a high note.