Turning the puck over isn't going to win you many hockey games. The Dallas Stars had trouble with committing those tonight. The worst were the turnovers in their own zone -- when you give Chicago those prime chances, they will capitalize. Chicago is just too good and have too much talent to be able to make mistakes like that.
Richard Bachman was big early on in the game, surviving an onslaught of shots in the first period where the Stars were severely out played. He was the reason the Stars made it out of the period down only one goal. They had trouble with getting into the offensive zone for much of the game, with only four shots on goal registered by the Stars in the first period. The trend of few shots on goal has been disconcerting these last few games, but tonight it finally caught up to them. Hard to score when you don't have the puck heading towards the goal to begin with. It's something we'll look at in detail this week.
The worst part of this game isn't necessarily the loss -- although that does hurt the playoff chances in and of itself -- but more the loss of hot goal scorer rookie Alex Chiasson. Chiasson took a hit and left the game with an upper body injury. No word on how serious the injury is or how long he will be out yet -- we'll update you when we know more.
With Chiasson injured, the Stars had even more trouble with getting any sustained pressure in the offensive zone. The Stars finally broke through Ray Emery when Jamie Benn took advantage of Emery's ineffective play after the Stars botched a 3-on-1 on the short side and threaded the puck right between him and the goal post. Benn would score the equalizer in the second period off of a sick wrist shot that just flat beat Emery. The tie wouldn't last long, with the Blackhawks scoring just 1:28 later to take the lead for good.
A few more thoughts on tonight's loss:
- The passing tonight was not that great. The Stars needed to be crisp with their passes, because if you're not there is a Blackhawks player there waiting to take advantage. They had a hard time getting through the neutral zone because of it.
- The Stars' skating also wasn't what we had seen over these last few games. They seemed to get caught standing watching the play, instead of pushing it up ice. It's not the only reason they lost, but it sure didn't help things.
- One highlight of the game tonight: the penalty kill managed to keep the fifth ranked power play off the score sheet. Granted the Blackhawks hadn't really been clicking on that front in their last few chances anyway, but they have too much talent to take them on the man advantage lightly.
- It's just one game. The Stars still control their own destiny, even if the schedule doesn't get any easier down the stretch. The big test will be how they respond at home against Vancouver on Thursday.
- Nice to see Jamie Benn end his draught with two goals tonight. For the Stars to keep their push going, guys like Benn, Loui Eriksson, and Ray Whitney will need to be firing on all cylinders offensively.
Make sure you take the time to recognize that tonight is small in the grand scheme of things. After the events of today, it doesn't seem all that big of a deal. Make sure to tell your loved ones you love them. Let's appreciate the small things for a night.