By Brad Vandenberk
Remember the phrase “Home sweet home”? Well the Blackhawks have finally returned back to the United Center with faint smells of horse dung still lingering in the air. The circus has travelled to its next destination and the Indian head shines bright at center ice once again. The opponent on Tuesday was the same Dallas Stars that the Hawks played in Big D five days prior. That game went to a shootout with Ben Smith grabbing the victory as the 11th shooter, ripping one over Kari Lehtonen’s glove. The league leading Hawks completed their best circus trip going 6-1 and winning 6 straight after losing to Colorado to begin the trip. I smell another streak on the horizon, better scent than horse droppings. All four lines are clicking for Coach Q making it easier to have any given line out against any of the oppositions attack. Duncan Keith is making a strong case for a Norris nod being named 3rd star of the week with 6 assists. The Stars will be without one key element heading into Chicago. Tyler Seguin is suffering from concussion like symptoms and was sidelined for this event.
Corey Crawford got the start trying to add to his league leading 17 wins on the season. Dallas also countered with their number one net minder in Kari Lehtonen. Bryan Bickell, Michael Kostka and just diagnosed this morning Michal Handzus (illness) did not play. Sheldon Brookbank was moved back up to the wing position allowing Michael Rozsival to play alongside Nick Leddy on the back end.
You would think that returning home would make your excitement level jump off the charts. The Stars came into Chicago knowing that the Hawks had just returned and there was some revenge to be served. Brent Seabrook breaks up a 4 on 1 sliding across the ice. The Hawks get their first power play as Brenden Dillon heads off for hooking Patrick Kane. Marian Hossa doesn’t get a lot on a wide open shot attempt. At this stage the Hawks look like they should play 82 games on the road. Another power play chance for Chicago comes with Alex Goligoski heads to the box for tripping. During the man advantage Ryan Garbutt blocks a Seabrook point shot off the inside of his foot. He hits the ice and requires help to get off. He remained in the game. At the 6:13 mark of the period the Stars hit the scoreboard. Valeri Nichushkin catches Seabrook heading to the bench a makes the Hawks pay sniping it past Crawford 1-0. Minutes later, Andrew Shaw drops the gloves with Antoine Roussel and the fists start to fly. Shaw has his jersey pulled up over his head and still continues to throw them even after the linesmen come in to try and break it up. Just under the 2 minute mark, Niklas Hjalmarsson takes a careless tripping call giving the Stars an end of the period penalty. The Stars capitalize when Alex Chiasson tips home a Goligoski point shot 2-0. The period ends with the Hawks outshooting the Stars 16-5 but down 2-0.
The Stars don’t let up entering the second period. Jamie Benn hammers Toews against the benches. Ray Whitney breaks through the Hawks entire team and Seabrook is there to break up the shot attempt. The Hawks leave a wide open Erik Cole in front of the net and he makes them pay sending it over Crawford 3-0. The Hawks keep coming and trying to solve Lehtonen. Crawford keeps the Hawks in this game making some key saves. Finally we get to hear Chelsea Dagger! Roussel heads to the box for elbowing Toews and Patrick Sharp rips home a point shot on the power play with Toews and Shaw creating a great screen. Rozsival hammers Roussel as he tries to head up ice. Seems like the Hawks have a vendetta against Roussel. Oh ya, Rousell was the one that hit Kane on Friday in Dallas. Coach Q starts to tinker with his lines a bit putting Shaw between Kane and Kris Versteeg. Leddy seems to have some super glue on his behind as he doesn’t leave the bench for a few shifts. It must have worked, as Leddy sends a shot through Lehtonen’s pads queuing the Dagger once again 3-2. 1:05 later Johnny Oduya has a point shot trickle past Lehtonen tying the game at 3. Crawford makes some huge saves at the end of the period and the Hawks have scored three 2nd period goals and lead the Stars in shots 34-13.
The Hawks begin to bring their patented speed and puck possession when Brandon Saad and Kane break in 2 on 1. Saad elects to keep and the save is made. Just 3minutes into the frame, Hjalmarsson gets caught up ice and can’t catch a streaking Roussel. He pulls the good old canner open move and the ref points to center ice for a penalty shot. Roussel uses the forehand, backhand move and goes bar down behind Crawford 4-3. Roussel tosses Rozsival into the boards. Looks like someone has their own vendetta! Hawks get a great opportunity when Vern Fiddler sends a puck over the glass heading to the box for delay of game. 46 seconds into the power play, Goligoski gets called for cross checking and the Hawks get a 5 on 3 for 1:14. Toews, Sharp and Hossa all get great chances to score but Lehtonen stands tall. Trevor Daly breaks in short-handed and Hossa has to trip him up and take the penalty. The fans get delighted to some 4 on 4 hockey for 32 seconds. The Hawks continue to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Lehtonen. Leddy speeds in, Rozsival comes off the point and the Stars keep the lead. The Hawks pull Crawford with 2:09 to play. The shots continue to fly but the Stars keep the puck out and get the win 4-3.
Sharp Toews Hossa Keith Seabrook
Saad Pirri Kane Oduya Hjalmarsson
Brookbank Shaw Versteeg Leddy Rozsival
Bollig Kruger Smith
-Hawks outshot the Stars 50-18.
-Hawks go 1/5 on the power play and the Star go 1/2.
-Toews went 14/22 in the face off dot, Pirri 3/14 Shaw 4/10 and Kruger 5/10.
-Keith led all Hawks in TOI 26:14, Kane was next closest Hawks at 23:37.
-Kane was named 1st Star for the month of November claiming 19 points in 15 games and 2 more tonight (2A).
-Hawks now hit the road again as they travel to the Xcel Energy center in Minnesota on Thursday.