Marian Hossa scored twice, and Patrick Kane, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jonathan Toews each added goals as the Chicago Blackhawks knocked off the Dallas Stars by a score of 5-2 on Saturday night. Patrick Sharp assisted on four of the five Chicago goals in the win.
Kari Lehtonen stood tall for the Stars, and ended up making 26 saves in a losing effort. Corey Crawford did him a few better though, racking up 28 saves, including some crucial ones late in the game.
The first period was a perfect example of the impact that a lack of discipline can have on a team. The Blackhawks were dominating possession of the puck at even strength, but the Hawks conceded three different power plays to the Stars. Just one second after a high sticking penalty by Brandon Saad was killed off, Niklas Hjalmarsson went to the box on a tripping call.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, they ended up giving up one too many shot opportunities to the Stars, and just as the penalty expired, Cody Eakin found a loose puck in the crease and pushed it into the net to give Dallas a 1-0 lead. The play was a crazy one, as several Blackhawks tried to clear Dallas players from in near the net but only succeeded in creating chaos around Crawford.
The Hawks got back into the swing of things in the middle stages of the period, getting plenty of good opportunities, but Lehtonen was able to stand tall. Marcus Kruger then killed off that momentum by committing a penalty of his own when he tripped Tyler Seguin to send the Stars to their third power play of the game.
After killing that one off, the Hawks finally got on the board. On a sweet play by Jonathan Toews behind the net, the captain pushed the puck to the front through heavy traffic, and Hossa picked it up and tapped in his seventh goal of the year to tie things up at 1-1, which remained the score through the end of the first period.
Early in the second period, the Stars dominated the shot totals early on, and even though the Hawks did manage a few opportunities of their own, a Dallas goal felt almost preordained. Sure enough, Jamie Benn dished the puck to Seguin in the zone, and his shot clanged off the crossbar and went in to give the Stars a 2-1 lead seven minutes into the second.
To complicate matters even more, less than a minute later, Patrick Kane picked up a penalty for delay of game to put the Stars on the power play for the fourth time in the game. Fortunately for Chicago, they killed off their fourth penalty in a row, and then took advantage of a huge break. Toews was stuffed by Lehtonen on a shot attempt, but then a Stars defenseman kicked the puck into the net, and the first line struck yet again in tying the game at 2-2.
Yet again though, the Hawks weren’t able to capitalize, and once again found themselves short-handed, thanks to a Brandon Pirri hooking penalty. They did kill that off to move their success rate to 5-for-5 of the night, and late in the frame, the Stars finally gave Chicago a chance by committing their first penalty of the night and drawing a Bronx cheer from the Hawks’ fans in attendance.
Just a few seconds into the power play, Kane retook the team lead in goals with a gorgeous tally to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead late in the second. Patrick Sharp shoveled a pass to Andrew Shaw, who hit a pass to Kane, and the sniper didn’t miss the net as he drilled the shot home. Kane then followed that up with a breakaway opportunity in the period’s final seconds, but Lehtonen denied the chance to send the game to intermission with the Hawks in front.
The third period started off with some near misses for the Hawks. Rich Peverley was denied on a breakaway attempt after receiving a pass from Benn, and then Crawford had to dive to steal a puck off Peverley’s stick after it evaded the Hawks goaltender behind the net, and then Brent Seabrook had to dive to fire the puck down ice after it trickled back through the Chicago crease.
The Hawks managed to recover from those stumbles and get a great possession from their first line, with Hossa and Sharp picking up tremendous opportunities that just couldn’t quite beat Lehtonen. That set the tone for the middle stages of the period, as both teams got really good scoring chances, but were stymied by both Crawford and Lehtonen, including a sparkling glove save by Crawford on a breakaway chance for Seguin with about seveon minutes left in the game.
The first line wasn't content to let the goalies steal the show however, and they struck again with 1:41 remaining in the game. Sharp won a battle at the blue line for the puck, and he chipped it to the middle of the ice, where Hossa picked it up and beat Lehtonen on a breakaway to ice the game with a 4-2 lead.
As if that wasn't good enough, Hjalmarsson corralled the puck on a late Dallas power play and flung it about 200 feet up the ice to score an empty net goal to give the Hawks a 5-2 lead.
The Blackhawks won't get much rest, as they take on the Edmonton Oilers on home ice on Sunday night.