The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to chase down the Dallas Stars in the Central Division standings, but those hopes dimmed to a faint flicker on Tuesday as they lost 6-2 at the United Center.
The Stars racked up four goals in the first period of the game to stun the Blackhawks, and the defending Stanley Cup champions were booed off the ice after the frame came to an end. Dallas continued the shellacking in the second period as Radek Faksa scored his second goal of the season, and an empty net goal in the third sealed the win for the Stars.
As for the Blackhawks, they now trail the Stars by six points in the standings with just eight games remaining, and the Hawks’ next four contests will take place away from the United Center.
After a sluggish start to the first period, the Stars got the lucky break that they needed to break things open. Off a Trevor van Riemsdyk turnover, Colton Sceviour grabbed the puck and knocked a shot off of Scott Darling’s stick and into the net for a fluke goal and a 1-0 lead for the Stars.
Just 25 seconds later, the Stars got another lucky break and extended their lead. Sceviour picked up a loose puck behind the net after an Erik Gustafsson turnover, and his pass to the front was one-timed home by Vernon Fiddler to make it a 2-0 game.
The Stars continued to build their lead as the first period wore on, and a power play gave them their third goal of the night. This time it was Patrick Eaves doing the damage, as he finished off a gorgeous tic-tac-toe passing play. Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn cycled the puck back into the slot, and Eaves pounded home his ninth goal of the season (and his fourth of the year against the Blackhawks) to make it a three-goal game.
The Stars finished off the period with a flourish, adding a short-handed goal for good measure. Patrick Kane missed a bouncing puck at the blue line, and Fiddler took advantage as he scored on the breakaway for his second goal of the contest and a 4-0 lead for the visitors.
The Blackhawks did manage to score late in the second period, as Andrew Shaw pounded home a rebound off a Marian Hossa shot, but Dallas responded just two minutes later. Faksa got in behind the Hawks’ defense on a 2-on-1 rush, and he fired a wrist shot past Michael Leighton to put his team back ahead by a 5-1 margin, and they cruised from there.
The Blackhawks will have a few days to collect themselves after some big struggles, and they’ll look to rebound on the road Saturday when they take on the Calgary Flames in Alberta.