By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks swept the season series from the Dallas Stars Monday night at the United Center. Dallas came in the winners of five consecutive contests but was no match for a Blackhawks squad that parlayed a big third period into a 5-2 victory.
The win is Chicago’s sixth in a row and puts them one win from locking up home ice in the Western Conference. Three points from Marian Hossa and an active night by the third line, led by Andrew Shaw, paced the Blackhawks effort.
Brandon Saad took a nice feed from Jonathan Toews in the first minute of action. However, he could not settle the puck and the attempt was off the mark. The Hawks settled into the Dallas zone for much of the opening minutes.
Vernon Fiddler got caught hooking Saad at the blue line 7:56 into the first period. Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa got off decent shots but Chicago failed to light the lamp.
The Blackhawks got on the board late in the 12th minute. Saad started the scoring play by finding Hossa at the right circle. Towes came out of the left corner to arrive at the left post just in time to knock in Hossa’s shot past Richard Bachman at the 12:54 point of the period.
Stalberg nearly made it a two-goal advantage a minute later but his breakaway attempt came up short when he couldn’t get the puck on his forehand side. Saad took a pass from the captain and sent a shot on net that Bachman stopped.
Kruger had a chance to put back a Keith slapper but couldn’t get enough on the rebound to beat the Dallas goalie. The Stars came back down the ice and sent a shot off of Emery’s pad. The rebound came out in dangerous territory, but Bryan Bickell prevented Loui Ericksson from taking a shot at an open net.
Antoine Roussel was whistled for interference in the 19th minute. The period ended with Chicago on the power play and having outshot the Stars 13-4 in the opening 20 minutes. The ‘Hawks took a 1-0 lead into the locker room.
Dallas killed off the few remaining seconds of the Blackhawks power play to open the second period. Michal Handzus nearly was able to set Brandon Bollig up for a goal, but the pass was tipped. Hossa backhanded a rebound into Bachman late in the fourth minute. This was followed by Chicago’s third power play after Erik Cole grabbed Toews’ stick at the 4:05 mark.
Handzus assisted on Chicago’s second goal by taking a pass from Andrew Shaw and getting the puck to Stalberg coming into the Dallas zone. The Swede’s speed got him to the doorstep, where he flicked the puck over Bachman’s right pad with 12:14 gone in the second.
Dallas responded a few minutes later with Jamie Benn stealing the puck from Patrick Kane in the Stars own zone. Bringing the puck up on Niklas Hjalmarsson with a pair of skaters, Benn worked a give and go with Ray Whitney and beat Emery to the glove side to make it 2-1 Blackhawks at the 14:12 mark. That’s the way the second period ended.
Dallas tied the score early in the third period after a clearing attempt by Handzus hit an official and was taken back into the Chicago zone. Whitney’s drop pass to Benn resulted in a shot that got by Emery’s glove just 3:07 into the period.
The Blackhawks would regain the lead 74 seconds later. Kane brought the puck into the Stars zone and waited for Bickell to head to the net. He then fed Shaw, who five-holed Bachman from the right circle to put Chicago up 3-2 at the 4:31 mark.
Chicago built on the lead in the eighth minute when Toews banked a pass across the ice to Hossa. He was denied a shot on goal, but managed to win control of the puck. Hjalmarsson came into the Dallas zone in time to take Hossa’s feed and slap home the Blackhawks fourth goal of the evening past Bachman’s glove 7:46 into the third.
Dallas pulled Bachman in the 18th minute. This led to several ‘Hawks attempts on the empty net, ending when Hossa sealed the deal with 26 seconds left.
-Hjalmarsson continues to play well in tandem with Keith. Johnny Oduya, Hjalmarsson’s former partner, also made several nice plays to deny Dallas scoring opportunities.
-Saad could very well have a couple of goals on the night in addition to his first period assist. He was constantly in a position to take a shot on goal.
-Remember when Anaheim was right behind the ‘Hawks for conference supremacy? With six games to play, Chicago has an eleven-point lead over the Ducks.
-Emery wasn’t terribly impressive Monday. Seeing as how he faced just 18 shots he didn’t really need to be. Razor went way out of the crease to handle a puck, which nearly resulted in a Stars short-handed goal that would have cut the lead to a goal late in the third. The defense really helped him out all night, but particularly on that play.
-Dave Bolland didn’t do much else on the night, but he was 15-19 at the dot. Overall, Chicago won the faceoff battle 37-29.
-On a night where the ‘Hawks were playing their third game in four nights against a rested team desperate for a win, Joel Quenneville was able to roll four lines and was the fresher team down the stretch.
-The Blackhawks are still 0-for-April on the power play, though they are 8-1 in the nine games they have come up empty with the man advantage.
-Oh, by the way, Chicago dominated the Stars with Patrick Sharp in the team box. The team continues to have the luxury of protecting that injured shoulder.
-Three more days off are coming up before a weekend that sees Chicago host Nashville and Phoenix.