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Stars Struggle at 5 on 5, Fall to Blackhawks 4-2

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And honestly, it wasn’t even that they didn’t try.

Dallas Stars v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

The Dallas Stars make the final stop in their three city road trip in Chicago tonight for the first of two games against the Chicago Blackhawks before heading home to Texas. This game marks the fifth of eight games between the two clubs this season, with the Blackhawks leading the season series 3-1 before tonight.

The Stars will be without head coach Rick Bowness, still out after being removed from Sunday night’s game before the third period due to covid protocols. It was reported on Twitter that he’s had one negative test result. Radek Faksa drew back in the line up after missing the weekend games.

Chicago’s season is on par with the Stars, who have three games in hand on the Blackhawks. The final two games of the season will be against Chicago and could be big ones in terms of playoff implications.

But that’s still a few weeks off. They’ve still got to get through tonight.

First Period

Less than a minute into the period, the Stars had a laborious line change that left the center of the ice wide open for Patrick Kane to score his first in five games, except that Stars video coach Kelly Forbes immediately called to challenge it for off sides.

Kirby Dach came over the blue line before the puck, which is allowed as long as the player maintains control over the puck. The problem is that he passed the puck while he was over the blue line and the puck was not, therefore ceding control of the puck to another player.

Jamie Oleksiak was called for a tripping penalty against Dach, but though they had plenty of opportunity the Blackhawks were not able to score with the man advantage. Even though they also had five minutes of five-on-five to work with, seven minutes into the game, the Stars had still not recorded a shot on goal and the Blackhawks had 7.

Right after the penalty kill, the Stars finally managed a shot on goal, and actually managed to even up the shot count and quality before the end of the period.

At 12 minutes into the period, after an extended time in the Stars offensive zone, Andrew Cogliano’s pass was broken up by Connor Murphy, who passed the puck on to Kane, who then had a two-on-one breakaway opportunity with Dach.

Miro Heiskanen’s concentration was mostly on Kane and Dach sped past him and had no trouble with Oettinger.

The Stars did not have the same luck on the other end of the ice.

Shots: Dallas 9, Chicago 10
Score: Dallas 0, Chicago 1

Second Period

Things are . . . interesting in Chicago.

Jason Robertson gave the Blackhawks their only power play time this period when he hooked Nikita Zadorov at five minutes in, but the Stars killed off that penalty.

The Stars continue to struggle at even strength play and on paper, the Blackhawks do too. Both teams had a 0.5 expected goals rate at even strength in this period, but the difference is the Blackhawks managed to get the puck around Oettinger and the Stars weren’t able to figure that out on the other end.

After a ton of pressure from the Stars in the Blackhawks zone, a giveaway from Blake Comeau lead to a two-on-one odd man rush and a Blackhawks goal from Dominik Kubalik.

The Stars had two power play opportunities off of penalties to Zadorov and Calvin de Haan, but spent more time recovering the puck in their own zone than they did trying to get the puck behind Kevin Lankinen. Do with this information what you will:

Alex Debrincat scored off a really terrible turnover in the offensive zone, around both Faksa (notably not a defenseman) and Oettinger.

Shots: Dallas 19, Chicago 22
Score: Dallas 0, Chicago 3

Third Period

The Stars began the third period with another tripping penalty to Oleksiak, but instead of merely killing the penalty, the Stars decided to score a shorthanded goal instead.

Adam Boqvist took a wide shot from the blue line that bounced back out to the point, but he wasn’t able to control the puck and lost it in the neutral zone. He isn’t the skater that Andrew Cogliano is, and Cogliano had a one-on-none breakaway.

Radek Faksa certainly enjoyed himself in the third, scoring a very crazy angled goal off a rebound to bring the Stars within spitting distance of a tie game.

It was not to be, sadly, as Kane scored the empty netter, snapping his five game scoreless streak.

The Predators won today as well, maintaining their 4th place spot. Chicago ends up tonight within two points, and the Blue Jackets won against the Lightning to put them two points ahead of the Stars, who are now seven points outside of the window.

They’ll be back against the Blackhawks on Thursday night, puck drop is at 7 pm CST.

Shots: Dallas 27, Chicago 28
Score: Dallas 2, Chicago 4