By Brad Gardner
The Blackhawks extended their winning streak to four games with a 3-2 comeback win in Dallas, capped off by Marian Hossa‘s league-leading fifth goal of the season less than two minutes into overtime. The Stars got out to a 2-0 lead in the second, thanks in large part to a stellar performance from goaltender Kari Lehtonen, but the Blackhawks offensive pressure proved to be too much to handle.
The Blackhawks outshot Dallas 12-6 in the first period, but they came up empty on two power play opportunities and, just as the period was coming to an end, gave up a shorthanded goal to Loui Eriksson.
A blocked point shot in the Hawks offensive zone led to the chance. Jaromir Jagr was first to the loose puck in the high slot and passed it ahead to Eriksson, who chipped the puck past Brent Seabrook in the neutral zone to gain positioning on the Blackhawks’ lone defender. Eriksson used his body to protect the puck from Seabrook and got enough on the shot for it to trickle through the five hole of Corey Crawford. The clock read 0.6 remaining in the first as the Stars went up 1-0.
The teams traded goals in the second, with Ray Whitney first extending the Stars’ lead to 2-0 about halfway through the period. The veteran Whitney got a piece of Michal Rozsival‘s clearing attempt and went to the net. Cody Eakin got to the loose puck and passed to Whitney, who had plenty of time to pick his spot with no one around him. It was a big goal considering how stellar Lehtonen had been in net up to that point.
The Blackhawks got one back at 15:57 of the second during the team’s fourth power play opportunity. Patrick Sharp got credit for the goal when his cross-crease pass attempt to Viktor Stalberg was deflected behind Lehtonen by the stick of Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley. While it was not the best chance the Blackhawks had seen against Lehtonen so far in the game, the fortunate deflection got the Hawks back in the game at a crucial juncture.
It was almost for naught when the Stars came inches away from scoring another last-second goal as time expired in the middle frame. An Alex Goligoski point shot made it’s way through Crawford’s five hole, but Duncan Keith was there to sweep the puck out of the crease and keep it from crossing the line with tenths of a second on the clock.
The Blackhawks dominated at the faceoff dot, winning 14 of 20 draws, and continued to create more chances during the third period. A strong performance from the penalty kill unit in their first appearance of the night midway through the third period also helped to build some momentum for the visiting team.
That momentum eventually led to the game-tying goal from the stick of the captain. On the advantage following a Dallas boarding penalty, the passing play began from Duncan Keith to Patrick Sharp along the blue line. Sharp passed back towards the slot, where Jonathan Toews had space and beat Lehtonen high to the blocker side. It was the Hawks’ first clean chance to beat Lehtonen despite the squad piling up over 30 shots on net by that point in the game.
A tripping penalty against Niklas Hjalmarsson with 1:18 left in regulation meant another inauspicious end to a period for the Blackhawks, but the PK unit again stood strong and was able to keep Dallas from establishing much presence in their offensive zone down the stretch.
The Stars’ man advantage carried over into overtime, but it was short-lived due to an interference call against Brenden Morrow 22 seconds into the extra period. Lehtonen turned away an open chance from Seabrook during the 3-on-3 but did not have much of a chance against Hossa’s blast on the power play at the 1:41 mark of overtime. Marian Hossa first sent a long pass across the zone to Kane, who held onto the puck as the Stars’ pursued him. His backhand return pass to Hossa caught everyone out of position and Hossa drilled the puck into the top corner to seal the victory.
– Toews’ line with Hossa and Brandon Saad carried the Chicago offense in each period, generating 16 of the Hawks’ 41 shots in the game. Lehtonen flat-out robbed each of them on multiple occasions and they created a handful of scrambles in and around the crease.
– The Blackhawks outshot the Stars by a count of 25-10 by the time Whitney extended the Dallas lead to two goals. It remained lopsided through the end of the game, with the shot count ending at 41-23.
– 3 stars of the game: 3. Jonathan Toews — 2. Kari Lehtonen — 1. Marian Hossa
– Jamal Mayers (a team low 6:49 of ice time) played in his first game of the season while Brandon Bollig joined Sheldon Brookbank as a healthy scratch. Daniel Carcillo remains out with a knee injury. Steve Montador is out with recurring concussion symptoms.
– The Blackhawks next game is in Columbus on Saturday, a 6pm central start against the Central Division rival.