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A Much Needed Victory in Chicago, Stars Win 6-4

The Dallas Stars were in the Windy City tonight for the season finale against the Chicago Blackhawks on the second half of a back-to-back after yesterday’s loss in New Jersey.

In playoff updates, the Stars began the evening still in the second wild card spot, but with their loss yesterday and the Vegas Golden Knights’ win, the two clubs were tied going into tonight’s game, though the Stars had two games in hand.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have already been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention and are skating their way to an easy breezy golfing schedule.

Not to be overlooked in the playoff bubble: the Nashville Predators are three points ahead and lost their game in overtime against the Penguins today. The Los Angeles Kings are clinging to third in the Pacific by the skin of their teeth, they’re on a three game losing streak. The Golden Knights may end up leap-frogging the Stars for that spot and the Stars may end up battling the Kings for the wild card berth.

First Period

Buckle up because the Stars scored four times in the first period but the score was 2-2 by the end.

Two minutes into the first period, Riley Stillman collided knee-on-knee with Alexander Radulov and got sent to the box. Having finally remembered that they’re allowed to do so, the Stars capitalized the man advantage and scored the first power play goal of the night when Jamie Benn cleaned up a rebound in front of the Blackhawks’ netminder.

Jamie Benn has quietly been on a point streak, this is the fifth game in a row he’s taken home at least an assist.

Four minutes later, the Stars turned the puck over in neutral ice. Phillipp Kurashev carried the puck into the Stars zone with Jonathan Toews on the other side of the ice. Kurashev passed and Jake Oettinger bit to Toews’ side of the ice and did not count on a sliding Esa Lindell knocking the puck ever so slowly and gently into the net.

Shortly after that goal, Radek Faksa went to the box for interference against Alex DeBrincat. On the ensuing power play, the Blackhawks managed six shots on goal in the first minute and a half. The Stars cleared the puck and the Blackhawks began carrying it back up to the Stars zone. Toews went for a centering pass and Lindell moved in to deflect it.

Into his own goal. Again.

Lindell’s second of the night for the other team. Is there a record for that?

DeBrincat went to the box for interference against Luke Glendening after being dumped at the top of the zone by Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski scored to tie the game.

The Stars managed to kill off a final penalty in the period against Roope Hintz for interference.

Shots: Stars 10, Blackhawks 13

Goals: Stars 2, Esa Lindell 2

Second Period

The second period was just about as exciting as the first in terms of goals scored with 100% fewer penalties.

First, Pavelski picked off a pass from Kirby Dach in the Blackhawks’ zone. Pavelski’s pass found Roope Hintz in front of the net and he buried it for the lead.

Boris Katchouk scored his first as a Blackhawk, and actually scored it, no deflections off of a Stars player. Lindell wasn’t even on the ice at the time.

Then Jason Robertson scored two in a row to round out the period. The first was a hilarious bounce off Blackhawks’ goalie Kevin Lankinen that Robertson shot from behind the net.

The second was a wrist shot from the top of the zone through traffic.

Despite the fact that Lankinen let in 5 goals on 18 shots, he remained in the game. Oettinger looked increasingly fatigued throughout the period, he played yesterday in New Jersey as well. The Stars’ defense was mostly successful in keeping the majority of the Blackhawks’ scoring chances to long shots from distance.

And technically, the Blackhawks have only scored once.

Shots: Stars 20, Blackhawks 25

Goals: Stars 5, Blackhawks (and Lindell) 3

Third Period

The Blackhawks waited for intermission to make the goalie change, Collin Delia was in the net to start the third period.

The third period was just a lot of back and forth for the first 15 minutes of it. The Blackhawks had more shots on goal, but not a single one of those shots was below the face off dots, and Oettinger stayed solid in net.

With under five minutes left to go, Tyler Seguin scored on a wraparound to make it 6-3. Jamie Benn and Miro Heiskanen got the assists.

Kirby Dach scored with under three left to go, just to make the final minutes a little more perilous, but weren’t able to make up the deficit.

Shots: Stars 30, Blackhawks 40

Goals: Stars 6, Blackhawks 4

A big win that they desperately needed for the Stars’ play off run. They’ll be at home in Dallas on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Puck drop will be at 8:30 pm CDT with the game nationally broadcast on ESPN.

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