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Preview: Chicago Blackhawks @ Dallas Stars

Game 53 will commence. #90 will not be there.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In the showdown of teams tied for 12th place Thursday night- The Stars were found wanting. Not for lack of trying, but perhaps for lack of equal goaltending.

Ondrej Pavelec was equal to the considerable task as the Stars threw the kitchen sink at him, and a vintage Dallas story unfolded as over 40 shots proved insufficient- The back breakers came in the form of an egregious giveaway, and a missed chance down two men, of all things.

"We gave them the goal by leaving the crease and that’s the one that did us in," head coach Lindy Ruff opined. "We had an empty net to put it in, we had Jamie Benn’s crossbar, you look at the attempts at the end of the night and we’re writing the same story again. We made some mistakes."

That hurts. That hurts because of what it cost to lose a "four point" game. To lose to a divisional foe, a Western Conference foe after a spate of success against the East. That would have been a bit of tasty validation.

Instead it cost the two points, the other two points for the Jets, and one Jason Spezza.

And that stinks. "He’s going to miss some time," Ruff added. Friday he'd commit to it being a couple of weeks, at least. So the journey- the dream- gets that much harder, and it goes through much more difficult fare than the Sabres, the Leafs, and the lowly Jets.

Today it goes through the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago doesn't score a ton- 2.74 per game, middle-of-the-road at 14th. Their 2.58 goals against per is 10th in the league, but it's not exactly Minnesota's 2.28 number. Neither blows anyone away, but both are manageable, and they combine to put the Blackhawks right where you expect them to be- Right under the Minnesota Wild.

Huh? OK maybe not there, exactly, but second in the division and third in the Western Conference, just a hair behind the Sharks, anyway- And that seems about right for the perennial contenders, quietly working their way through another solid season.

That season has included ups and about two downs- The latest just their second three-game losing streak of the season (file that under 'must be nice') to the Sharks, Jets and Lightning before they broke their funk against the Coyotes the last time out, 4-3.

They potted two on the power play in Glendale Thursday- A departure from where that part of their game has been lately. Chicago had been held without a power play goal in seven of their previous eight contests heading into that one. Three in their last three games overall, however, has it un-stuck, and heading into an opportunity to really getting it on track against the worst penalty kill in the NHL tonight.

Their lineup:

  • Schmaltz-Toews-Hossa
  • Panarin-Anisimov-Kane
  • Desjardins-Rasmussen-Panik
  • Hartman-Kero-Hinostroza

—-—

  • Keith-Hjalmarsson
  • Campbell-Seabrook
  • Forsling-van Riemsdyk

—--—

  • Corey Crawford
  • Scott Darling

Injuries: Michal Roszival. That is literally their injury list. The Stars' forwards ALONE have lost 191 games this season, and the Blackhawks are dealing with the loss of defenseman Michal Roszival for a good eight days now.

Hockey.

From Stars PR:

BLACKHAWK DOWN

The Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks meet on Saturday night for the fourth of five games during the 2016-17 campaign. The Stars are 0-2-1 this season against the Blackhawks, dropping a 3-2 decision in the only game at American Airlines Center on Nov. 5. Forwards Curtis McKenzie (1-0=1) and Brett Ritchie (1-0=1) each recorded goals for Dallas, with defenseman Stephen Johns (0-1=1) and forward Antoine Roussel (0-1=1) chipping in helpers. Goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 29-of-32 shots faced on the evening against his former team. In three games this season against Chicago, defenseman John Klingberg (0-2=2) and forwards Curtis McKenzie (1-1=2) and Antoine Roussel (0-2=2) are tied for the team-lead in points.

THE BEST THERE'S EVER BENN

Captain Jamie Benn recorded three points (1-2=3) on Thursday against the Jets for his 10th multi-point game of the 2016-17 season. Benn is now riding a season-long five game point streak (4-3=7), his longest point streak since recording points in five-straight games (1-5=6) last season from Feb. 6 - 15, 2016. He also has goals in a season-best three consecutive contests (3-2=5). Benn ranks second on the Stars with 45 points (15-30=45) in 48 games this season. Among club leaders, he ranks first on the team with 30 takeaways, is tied for first with two game-winning goals and ranks fifth with 64 hits. The captain currently has a six-game point streak at American Airlines Center (4-4=8) and points in nine of his last 10 contests (4-9=13) in the Lone Star State. Benn leads the Stars and is tied for sixth in the NHL with 28 points (8-19=28) on home ice. The native of Victoria, B.C. has points in nine of his last 11 games vs. Chicago (2-11=13) along with five points (1-4=5) over his last five games against the Blackhawks at American Airlines Center. He has skated in 30 career contests vs. Chicago and has notched 24 points (7-17=24).