Monday, April 15, 2013
Chicago Blackhawks 5, Dallas Stars 2
Dallas' five game winning streak is abruptly halted by the best team in the NHL.
The Dallas Stars' unlikely five-game winning streak was finally put to rest Monday night in Chicago, as they proved to be no match for the NHL-best Blackhawks in a 5-2 loss. The loss dropped Dallas to 21-18-3 and 45 points on the season, two points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with six games remaining. Chicago improved to 33-5-4.
It was boys against men from the first period on, as Chicago spent nearly the entire first period in the Dallas zone. Somehow that only resulted in one Blackhawks goal, at 12:54 when rookie Brandon Saad made a cross-ice pass to a wide-open Marian Hossa, who got it to captain Jonathan Toews for the tap-in and an early 1-0 lead. It was Toews' 21st goal of the year and 17th even-strength goal, second in the NHL.
Chicago doubled their lead at 12:14 of the second period when Viktor Stallberg caught the Stars in a poor line change and streaked down the ice. Stallberg easily beat a confused Philip Larsen and slammed it past Dallas backup netminder Richard Bachman for his ninth of the season and a 2-0 lead.
Dallas appeared dead in the water at that point, but two minutes later Jamie Benn stole the puck with a deft play in the Stars zone, skated up ice on a 3-on-1, made a quick give-and-go to Ray Whitney before wristing it in for his 9th goal of the season and a 2-1 game.
Outshot 13-4 in the first and 22-11 over the first two periods, Dallas was fortunate to be within one goal heading into the third. They got that goal at 3:07 when Whitney passed to Benn, who wristed a shot from distance that deflected off two Blackhawks and in for his 10th of the season and a 2-2 game.
The game was only tied for 84 seconds, however, as Patrick Kane skated in, the Dallas defense backed off and Kane got the puck to Andrew Shaw who shot it in for his ninth of the season for a 3-2 lead.
Things went from bad to worse for Dallas three minutes later on a Blackhawks breakaway. On a chaotic breakaway Hossa got a puck to a wide-open Niklas Hjalmarsson, who rifled it in for a 4-2 lead. Dallas tried mounting a comeback but were unable to get anything past the NHL's #1 defense, and eventually gave up an empty-net goal to Hossa in the dying seconds to seal the loss.
Bachman was good in the first period but atrocious in the third, giving up two goals on the four shots he faced in the final period and making just 23 saves on 27 shots overall. Chicago's Ray Emery stopped 16 of 18 shots to improve to 16-1 on the season.
Dallas' next game is Thursday night in Dallas against the 24-12-6 Vancouver Canucks.