There aren’t many nights when a forward has four points in the first two periods and clearly isn’t the best player on the ice, but that was the case for Artem Anisimov on Saturday night.
Anisimov picked up assists on goals by Brent Seabrook (a power play marker) and Trevor van Riemsdyk in the first period, and then scored a short-handed goal and added an assist on a Patrick Kane goal in the second to give him four points thru 40 minutes.
But the story of the first couple periods was Corey Crawford.
The Hawks out-shot Dallas 11-9 in the first period but Crawford had to make a few big saves to keep the high-octane Stars offense to only one goal. Tyler Seguin was able to beat Crawford 80 seconds after van Riemsdyk’s goal in the first period, cutting the Hawks lead to 2-1 at the time.
Marian Hossa came back with a short-handed goal of his own in the final minute of the first to extend the lead to 3-1, which apparently was enough for Dallas to make a change in net; Kari Lehtonen replaced Antti Niemi for the second.
Niemi finished the night with eight saves against 11 shots.
Jonathan Toews picked up the primary assist on Hossa’s goal, the 300th regular season assist of his career.
The Hawks controlled the flow until van Riemsdyk went to the box seven minutes into the second. Dallas didn’t score on that advantage but grabbed control of the action for most of the remainder of the period, and the Hawks were able to withstand the onslaught only because Crawford played a magnificent period.
When the dust settled after a furious middle stanza, Crawford had made 18 saves in 20 minutes and his teammates added two more goals for a 5-1 lead.
Kane’s goal late in the second period that made the score 5-1 established a new career high of 31 for the Hawks superstar winger.
The third period saw a few decent opportunities for either side, but the four-goal lead made the final 20 minutes a bit of a formality. Crawford’s performance in the second period was a dagger deep in the heart of Texas. Late in the third period, with most of the seats formerly filled with Stars fans emptied, there was a well-deserved, noticeable “Corey! Corey!” chant from the Hawks fans in attendance.
Niklas Hjalmarsson was credited with two assists, joining Anisimov as the two Hawks with a multi-point evening. Anisimov was part of a strong night at the dot for the Blackhawks as well; he won 11 of 19 and Toews won 13 of 18 to lead Chicago’s faceoff performance.
Andrew Shaw became the fourth player from the 2011 NHL Draft to play in 300 career regular season games on Saturday night.
Crawford’s 31st win keeps him right on the heels of Braden Holtby for the league lead as those two figure to be the front-runners for the Vezina Trophy this season. Certainly Crawford’s performance against a Dallas team that had won three straight coming into Saturday night will bolster his credentials for the league’s top goaltender honor.
The Hawks return to the United Center to host the Sharks on Tuesday night.