CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 23: Ryan Garbutt #40 of the Dallas Stars checks Niklas Hjalmarsson #4 of the Chicago Blackhawks into the boards at the United Center on February 23, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Dallas Stars began running the final gauntlet leading up the the NHL trade deadline last night as they traveled to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks at United Center. The Hawks, without captain Jonathan Toews, were an imposing matchup for the Stars. Backup goalie Richard Bachman hadn't played since February 2nd against the San Jose Sharks, but he was trusted with giving the Stars a chance to win. He did just that. The Stars picked up both points in a crucial 3-1 win. They were outchanced 16-14 overall, but they had the advantage 5-4 over the Hawks in the third.
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Special teams weren't a factor in the game. The Stars outworked the Hawks for most of the night. The Ryan Garbutt experiment rolls on. When he was on the ice his line was physically dominant once again. Whether that was with Steve Ott and Adam Burish or the fourth liners he still continued to make plays for the Stars. The player report is fun to look at once again, and you can find it after the jump.
Mark Fistric is getting to play again, but the Stars coaching staff still isn't trusting him very much with Nicklas Grossman gone. Philip Larsen, Stephane Robidas, and Alex Goligoski all saw 21+ minutes at even strength. Sheldon Souray picked up 20 minutes. Trevor Daley only saw 16 minutes. Fistric saw less than 15 minutes. Fistric, oddly enough, was the Stars biggest negative among the defense corps at -3. Daley, Robidas, and Souray were all -2.
The biggest highlight from the defense was the continued solid play of Larsen and Goligoski. Both were +2. Larsen continues to improve defensively. Much like the Erik Cole play from the other night there were several opportunities for Hawks forwards to run Larsen over. He held firm again. The forwards corps continues to work hard defensively too. Garbutt, Ott, and Burish were particularly good about helping out defensively. Ott, at +3 chances, was the Stars top forward. He also finally was able to get on the score sheet thanks to a deft tip in the third period.
Burish, Ott, and Garbutt were on the ice for the most offensive chances among Stars forwards. Burish was on the ice for seven chances. Ott and Garbutt saw the ice for five. Garbutt and Burish picked up more ice time as the game went along at the expense of Tomas Vincour and Tom Wandell. It's a shame Vincour saw his time cut, but Burish deserved to see more of the ice. Early on Vincour was creating some chances, but the energy Burish continues to bring has been invaluable to the uptick in team performance lately.
The Stars get back on the horse tonight against the Minnesota Wild. The Stars have put together consistent efforts lately just when they needed to start really showing us something. They might have Jamie Benn back, and if they can integrate him into the current hot streak there is no reason to expect the Stars to lose. The games are growing more and more fun by the day. Those of you that have stuck around are finally being rewarded for your patience.