Despite racking up 50 shots on goal in the game, the Chicago Blackhawks couldn’t quite find the right formula on Tuesday night as they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Dallas Stars at the United Center.
We’ll have plenty coverage as always on the blog, but for now, here were our Three Stars of the evening.
Third Star: Patrick Kane
The Blackhawks didn’t get a lot of offensive production in the early stages of the game, but despite not having a consistent center on his line with the absence of Michal Handzus from the lineup, Kane had a really solid night on Tuesday.
Overall for the game, Kane had two assists and five shots on goal, and he led all Hawks forwards in ice time with nearly 24 minutes on the game. Most of that came on the Hawks’ power play, and he was one of the key players in terms of cycling the puck around the ice on the man-advantage.
His big moment ended up coming in the second period as the Hawks were in the midst of their big comeback. On a play late in the frame, Kane got the puck in the neutral zone, and in a deft bit of maneuvering managed to get past a Dallas defenseman and get zone entry on the rush. Not missing a beat, Kane re-collected the puck in the zone, and pushed a pass back to Johnny Oduya at the point.
Oduya’s shot ended up hitting two Stars players and beat Kari Lehtonen to tie things up in the game, but none of it would have happened had it not been for the smart and athletic plays that Kane was able to string together on that zone entry.
Second Star: Patrick Sharp
In just about any game this season that the Hawks have played, there are a few things that are relatively certain. One is that fans of the team will inevitably begin squabbling over goals that Corey Crawford allows, but the other on-ice element that is just about always present is how often it is Sharp that is pushing the action.
Tuesday night was no exception, as he led a great attack by the team’s first line as the Hawks mounted their comeback in the second period. Sharp shone brightest on a power play in that frame, as the Hawks were beginning to finally establish some good puck possession.
On that play, Andrew Shaw grabbed the puck along the boards after winning a puck battle, and worked it back to the point where Duncan Keith received the pass. Keith cycled the puck over to Sharp, and after he got it, he drove in a bit towards the net and uncorked an excellent shot past Lehtonen to get the Hawks on the board at 3-1.
That aggressive approach was one that served Sharp well the entire game, and even though the Hawks weren’t able to win the game, they were aided in a big way by the veteran forward’s unwillingness to quit.
First Star: Nick Leddy
Despite being benched for a big chunk of the second period, Leddy stepped up in a big way for the Hawks overall in the game, picking up a goal and adding seven shots on net in the losing effort for Chicago.
There were several instances where Leddy shone brightly in the game. On his goal in the second period, Leddy happened to read a developing play well, cutting in towards the net as Sheldon Brookbank got the puck on the opposite side of the ice. The ensuing pass was right on target, and Leddy took Lehtonen by surprise with his quick shot, and the puck ended up beating the Stars’ goaltender five-hole to pull the Blackhawks within a 3-2 margin.
The other play came in the third period of the game as the Hawks were trying to take the lead. Leddy came up the ice as the trailer on a rush with two Hawks forwards, and when the Stars’ defenders stopped to try to re-position after the pass back to Leddy, the youngster sped past them and just about beat Lehtonen on a lightning quick rush, but unfortunately for Leddy and the Hawks, the puck did not go in, and the Stars ended up scoring just a few minutes later on a penalty shot goal by Antoine Roussel for the game-winner.
It was an excellent second half of the game for Leddy, and hopefully he can carry that kind of intensity forward as the Hawks play five more games in the next seven days.