Dallas would jump out to a three goal lead and then promptly give it all away in the middle frame to take the game down to a twenty minute battle for the win. The Stars would have a lot of great defensive play in the last period to help close down the offensive juggernaut that is the Blackhawks, buoyed also by a strong penalty kill.
The Stars came out with several good chances early in the period, with captain Jamie Benn leading the way. They were making sharp passes and had a very good, aggressive backcheck. They did have some penalty trouble early on, but the penalty kill was pretty good. Shawn Horcoff would take a pass off of an Alex Goligoski spin-o-rama move for a great shorthanded chance where Corey Crawford had left the top of the net wide open. Horcoff would elevate it just a little too much and put the puck over the top of the net.
The worst moment of the first period was when Ryan Garbutt appeared to be broken after blocking a big shot in his own zone. He would continue skating, although it looked like he lost a step due to that blocked shot, and continued to get some really good looks shorthanded as well.
Valeri Nichushkin would put Dallas up 1-0 when he shot towards a screened Crawford and it would go right past him. The power play would also connect for a rare-as-seeing-a-unicorn goal when Alex Chiasson would tip a Goligoski shot in. The momentum would start to really tilt towards the Blackhawks after Antoine Roussel and Andrew Shaw dropped the mitts for a fight. Listening to the broadcast, it seems it was retribution of some sort from a high hit Roussel put on Patrick Kane in these two teams' matchup last Friday. The hit was shown several times, but while it looked higher (the hit was shoulder level) I didn't see anything dirty in it.
Offensive pressure was applied by Dallas to start the period once more. It led to a great play by Horcoff in the corner to pass back to Nichushkin behind the net. He'd find Erik Cole out front and the lead was now 3-0.
The good feelings wouldn't last much longer.
Roussel was called for an elbowing minor, putting the Stars on the penalty kill for the fourth time of the game. Chicago would capitalize on the power play. The momentum continued to turn as the Stars sat back trying to protect a lead. The offensive pressure by the Stars was practically non-existent from that point on. The Blackhawks would score two more unanswered goals to end the second tied at three apiece. One of those goals scored would come from a Roussel turnover in neutral ice to add to the bad penalty he took earlier in the period. Not smart plays by Roussel, and they were costly tonight.
The Stars continued to play on their heels and getting the offensive push from Chicago taken to them to start the last period of this tie game. Then Roussel would redeem some of the bad play he had in the second by getting taken down on a break towards the net. The refs would rule he didn't get his scoring chance and awarded a penalty shot, which Roussel backhanded up and over Crawford to put the Stars up 4-3.
Dallas would continue to have penalty problems when they were whistled for a delay of game when a puck went up into the stands. Goligoski would exacerbate the penalty kill by crosschecking Jonathon Toews right in the numbers in the corner. Luckily, the Stars' penalty kill continued their overall good effort and was able to kill it off and keep Chicago from gaining momentum.
Other thoughts on the night tonight...
- Kari Lehtonen is my hero. He turned away 47 out of 50 shots in the game and was the only reason the Stars were able to hang in the game at times.
- After the end of the second period, I would have said that Roussel had played his way to a healthy scratch in Thursday's game because of the bad penalty and turnover that both led to goals against. However, he did have the game winning goal tonight by playing hard to get the penalty shot to begin with, so he's forgiven for some of that second period play. He needs to not do that kind of stuff if he wants to stay in the lineup, however.
- 18 total shots on goal through three periods? Yikes.
- One day Kari Lehtonen's name will be pronounced properly by those not named Ralph Strangis and Daryl Reaugh, right? Today wasn't that day.
- The Stars had some really good plays with their sticks tonight to fill shooting lanes and block pass attempts.
- Brenden Dillon had a very strong defensive outing and continues to look steady back on the blueline no matter who he is paired with it seems. The Stars will need him to continue to play strong back there if they have a hope of staying in games with Stephane Robidas out of the lineup.
- Cody Eakin's faceoff win on the draw to start the 5-on-3 penalty kill was a big turning point for that shift.
- We'll have to keep an eye out to see if Garbutt hurt anything after that blocked shot. He seemed to take a while to shake it off, and it wouldn't surprise me if he has a really huge bruise at the least after that.