By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks came out on top of a see-saw affair Sunday night at the United Center, coming from behind four times and besting the Dallas Stars 5-4 in overtime. Patrick Sharp ended a wild night at the Madhouse with the game-winner early in the extra frame.
First Period-The Stars had an odd-man rush in the opening minute of action that was thwarted by a sliding Brent Seabrook. About a minute later, Chicago got some traffic in front after an Andrew Shaw shot from the left circle. Marcus Kruger got a stick on the rebound but Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen kept it out of harm’s way.
Niklas Hjalmarsson struck the post in the fourth minute. Soon after, the Stars jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Tyler Seguin sent a shot off of the leg of Brandon Saad that Corey Crawford was able to stop with his pads. Jamie Benn pounced on the rebound and scored 3:59 into the period.
Chicago was quick to even the score. Saad was the recipient of a pass from Jonathan Toews, who kicked to the stick before feeding Saad at the left post at the 5:14 mark. Crawford stopped a Vernon Fiddler attempt after a Teuvo Teravainen turnover in the seventh minute.
Near the midway point of the period, Lehtonen nearly gave up a rebound off a David Rundblad slap shot but got to the puck before Richards could take advantage.
The first line kept up the pressure in the Stars zone and was rewarded when Alex Goligowski slashed Marian Hossa to put the Hawks on the power play 12:09 into the period. Chicago had an opportunity or two but did not punish Dallas on the scoreboard.
The Blackhawks had a couple of solid shifts in the late going but the teams still skated off to the locker room tied at a goal apiece.
Second Period-The Stars got an odd-man rush in the third minute, converting when Jordie Benn jumped into the slot and went high on Crawford’s stick side to put Dallas ahead 2-1 just 2:15 into the middle frame. Again, Chicago responded quickly. Sharp maneuvered around Jordie Benn into the Dallas zone and hit Patrick Kane on the left side. Kane’s shot went in at the 3:58 mark.
Less than a minute later, the Stars would come up with a response of their own. Dallas got numbers in Hawks territory and snatched the advantage back on a wrist shot from the goal line by Eric Cole. The lead was 3-2 Stars 4:43 into the second period.
Dallas was penalized for too many men on the ice in the ninth minute but killed the infraction. Late in the period, Lehtonen stopped Toews after the Hawks got a 2-on-1 going. Jason Demers was called for a slash on Toews, however, and Chicago got another chance with a man advantage with 3:38 left.
Hossa missed with a backhand in front of the net but a few seconds later Richards got the puck from Hossa near the blue line and sent a puck to the net. Bryan Bickell got a piece of the shot, which got under Lehtonen and into the goal. The equalizer came at 18:05 and after 40 minutes the score was 3-3.
Third Period-Crawford fought off a hard shot from Cole in the second minute as things got underway in the final period. Lehtonen stopped a Duncan Keith slap shot about a minute later as both teams tried to take control of the action. Cole got a redirect of Goligowski’s shot to go past Crawford, off the right post and in to give Dallas a 4-3 lead 4:05 into the period.
The Hawks kicked up the pressure in the Dallas zone but Lehtonen stopped several Chicago attempts as the game entered the final ten minutes.The Blackhawks were getting men in front of the net but the centering passes just weren’t connecting. Seabrook had a good look from the top of the right circle but his stick snapped while attempting the one-timer.
Chicago drew even once more with 3:57 to play after Lehtonen deflected a shot by Hossa. Richards caught up to the puck in the corner and threw an attempt toward the net. The puck slipped under the goalie’s right arm and met the twine to make it a 4-4 contest.
The action was back and forth in the final minutes but neither team could manage another goal in regulation.
Overtime-Chicago survived a scary moment early in extra time when Crawford went behind the net and put a puck right in front of his crease. Crawford scrambled back to the net and stopped an attempt by Cody Eakin.
Shortly after that, Keith hit Sharp with a slap pass in the slot. The shot glanced off of Lehtonen’s chest and rolled across the goal line to end the contest.
Three Stars-Richards (third), Cole (second), Sharp (first).
-Teravainen had a pretty solid first shift with Joakim Nordstom and Ben Smith. He had some time on the first power play. As the game went on, coach Joel Quenneville used the rookie center with several line combinations. On the night, Teravainen had three shots on goal in 10:50 of action and won two of his five draws.
-Crawford made 30 saves on 34 Dallas shots. Lehtonen stopped 33 of 38 shots from the Hawks. Despite all the goals, I didn’t think either guy had a bad game. Crawford’s near gift aside, he didn’t have a lot of help on the four Stars goals.
-The Hawks got through over 61 minutes of action without being called for a penalty. That’s good because Dallas generated enough quality chances at even strength.
-Chicago lost 30 of 55 faceoffs on the night. Sharp won two of his three draws. Marcus Kruger won half of his eight appearances at the dot.
-It was only a year ago where Chicago was dropping games like this in bunches, so it was nice to see the Blackhawks find a way to pull this one out.
-The Hawks next play Colorado Tuesday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.