It wasn’t the prettiest win, but after some early penalty trouble, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Dallas Stars by a 5-2 margin on Saturday night in the Lone Star State.
Without further adieu, here were our Three Stars of the game:
Third Star: Patrick Sharp
In what has become a recurring theme for the Blackhawks, it was the team’s first line that stole the show again on offense, with Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa combining for three goals, five assists, and 10 shots on goal in yet another offensive outburst.
As for Sharp, he had assists on the first four Blackhawks goals, and it was his effort on Hossa’s breakaway goal late in the third period that was arguably the most impressive. On the play, Sharp got tangled up at the blue line with a Stars defender, and he managed to get inside position on the puck, and forced it out to the center of the ice.
To his credit, Hossa showed some great awareness in breaking up the middle of the ice, but it was Sharp’s willingness to battle for the puck and his soft hands that allowed the play to happen, and the Hawks got a crucial insurance goal at a key time.
Second Star: Marian Hossa
To put it simply, Hossa had an excellent night in all areas of the game for the Hawks.
He scored twice, including on a pretty breakaway goal in the third period. He had six shots on goal, so he was helping push the tempo on offense. He played nearly three minutes of short-handed time in helping Chicago go 6-for-6 in killing off penalties. He back-checked aggressively at even strength all evening.
All of those fragments of Hossa’s game paint a perfect picture of what he brings to the Hawks on a nightly basis, and he is truly a guy who is in a groove right now. His ice awareness is at a peak level, and his confidence is following suit. If he can keep playing like this, then there is no telling just how high his star might rise this season.
First Star: Corey Crawford
Crawford has started 15 games this season, and in 11 of them, including his winning effort against the Stars Saturday, he has allowed two goals or fewer, and he raised his record to 10-2-3 on the year.
What was particularly remarkable about Crawford’s effort was how he sustained it through all 60 minutes of the game. In the game’s early stages, he helped the Hawks to kill off a slew of first period penalties with some great saves. Even when his rebound control left him a bit in the second, he was still moving laterally quickly enough to keep the puck out of the net. In the third period, he matched Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen save-for-save as the Stars tried to climb out of a 3-2 hole, and his glove save of Tyler Seguin was his best of the night.
It’s not clear yet whether Crawford will start on Sunday night (it will likely be back-up Nikolai Khabibulin), but he is showing no ill effects from starting the team’s last four games and six of the last seven. That ability to play a ton of games was a question mark for Crawford after splitting time with Ray Emery last year, but so far he is acing that test with flying colors.