Power-play to penalty-kill differential was something Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said he spent a significant portion of his extended summer reviewing - And familiar trends are starting again.
The Blackhawks spent nearly 11 minutes of the first 60 on the power play, though it was tough at times to discern a difference between that and the time spent at even strength. Limping to overtime after surviving 40 shots on goal, the Stars took their seventh minor of the night and Chicago very fittingly took advantage when Marian Hossa finally gave his team the lead they had earned throughout as the Blackhawks won it 3-2.
Chicago pressured the Stars relentlessly in the early going, controlling play and peppering Kari Lehtonen's net with scoring chance after chance, but Dallas survived scoreless and pushed back as the frame went on until Jaromir Jagr took a minor in the offensive zone and momentum threatened to swing back Chicago's way. Loui Eriksson had other plans, and on a partial break away trickled a puck through Corey Crawford with just 0.6 seconds remaining.
The second period began much as the first did, and for ten minutes the endless Chicago counter attack possessed the puck and possessed it - and Kari Lehtonen endured. Ryan Garbutt earned a penalty shot but could not convert, and the onslaught continued until the monotony was ended on a broken Chicago play that ended with a Ray Whitney goal, all alone in front of the net.
The Blackhawks, down 2-0, were unimpressed and continued to push hard. When unable to defeat Lehtonen after 27 shots they got Trevor Daley to do it for them as a passing attempt deflected to their good luck off the d-man's stick blade and past the Stars' netminder.
A 2-1 lead for the Stars and a staggering 30-14 shot advantage for Chicago after two were over-shadowed by the in-game news that Jamie Benn had been signed to a 5-year, $26.25 million extension.
But the show went on, and the song remained the same.
The Stars kept taking penalties and the Hawks kept peppering the net. Dallas' third offensive zone penalty of the game by Eric Nystrom led to Chicago finally beating Kari Lehtonen straight-up for the equalizer at 2-2.
Left with five minutes to set the score at something resembling the monstrous disparity of possession in the game, Chicago came close but was unable. A failed Dallas power play that leaked over into overtime was unsuccessful, and Chicago took it on the aforementioned power-play of their own.
It was a point the Stars will be glad to have, and an evening they'll hope to forget. On to the next one, though Jamie Benn cannot play until Monday due to visa issues.
- Jaromir Jagr left the game in the waning minutes and is being evaluated by the training staff. His status will be updated here when we know more.
- Last season we bemoaned the shot totals against, but often said they were not quality attempts. Tonight was ALL quality. Every single Chicago shot, or darned near, was of the high quality variety. Troublesome. They cleaned it up last year eventually. How much time do they have this time to do the same?
- The Stars lost 10 of 13 faceoffs to start the game, though they improved as the night went on. Detroit dominated the dot in similar fashion Tuesday. Derek Roy has been good but Toews took 9 of 15 from him, and Chicago won 60% (!) overall tonight. Detroit took 58% on Tuesday night.
- Speaking of which: A preview of the conversation that will be had all day Friday and Saturday: With Jamie Benn now re-entering the lineup as early as Saturday night (not a sure thing), who is the guy that comes out of the lineup? Tom Wandell seems the logical choice with Eakin having earned three assists already in just his second game as "second line" center. Will Eakin go back to the fourth line? Will Roy/Jagr/Eriksson be broken up? It will be exciting to see.
- The Loui Eriksson and Ray Whitney goals were exciting, but the Jeff K announcement of the Jamie Benn signing in the second period was definitely the loudest the arena got tonight.
- Penalties in offensive zone - They've had a few already, and though the Jagr penalty on the attack didn't look like all that much from the press box tonight, the Stars are slowly slipping into the sort of PP/PK differential they saw last year. Possessing the puck a bit more would help. Garbutt's penalty was in the offensive zone. Nystrom's was as well. Morrow's in overtime too. Four in one night. That can't happen.
- Kari Lehtonen
- Kari Lehtonen
- 17,868 tonight. Many of them Hawks fans, but that's a strong number for Dallas coming out of a lockout.