For almost 36 minutes, it looked like the Blackhawks were shooting at a brick wall. But a lucky bounce got the Hawks on the board, and a great team effort kept the Blackhawks’ record perfect on the young season.
Patrick Sharp had a three-point night, getting the Hawks on the board with a power play goal late in the second period and then assisting on goals by Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
The game-winner from Hossa, who had been victimized more than anyone by a ridiculous Kari Lehtonen, was a filthy one-timer off a blind spin-o-rama pass from Patrick Kane. Kane has been incredible through four games this year, and the dish to Hossa was his second assist of the night.
Dallas stole the lead with less than two seconds remaining in the first period – while short-handed – when Loui Eriksson blew past Brent Seabrook and bounced a puck through Corey Crawford. Seabrook had a rough night (looked slow the entire game), and Crawford should have stopped the shot.
Ray Whitney extended the Stars’ lead in the middle of the second period, and many (including myself) wondered on Twitter if that would be enough. Lehtonen played as well as a goalie can in a loss, but the Hawks were able to break through with two power play goals in the game.
Nick Leddy continued his roll to start the season; the young defenseman has an assist in all four games. He led all Hawks’ defensemen with 6:44 of powerplay ice time, and skated the third-highest ice time on the Hawks blue line (19:17). Seabrook (23:41) and Duncan Keith (26:21) led the defensemen in ice time.
While Seabrook struggled, Keith showed flashes of the player that won the Norris Trophy after the 2009-10 season. His body positioning was good, his puck-handling was improved and his speed was great up and down the ice all night.
But Leddy’s speed was noticeable throughout the game, mostly when the Hawks had a man advantage. Also noticeable was another strong performance by Niklas Hjalmarsson, who might be playing the best hockey of this NHL career to start this season.
Toews led the Hawks up front, winning 13 of 20 faceoffs. Dave Bolland was also strong at the dot, winning 12 of 20 faceoffs.
In net, Crawford bounced back from two mediocre goals to have another strong third period. He kept all nine shots he faced in the third period and overtime out of the net, including a number of tough saves to keep the Hawks in the game. Crawford allowed two goals on 23 shots in the game and earned his third victory of the season.
Finally, something that cannot be ignored was the Hawks’ work on special teams yet again. In spite of the short-handed goal against at the end of the first period, the improvement on both the power play and penalty kill cannot be ignored after four games.
In Dallas, all three of the Blackhawks’ goals came on the power play as Chicago converted three of their seven advantages.
The Hawks weren’t short-handed until the third period, but killed both of the Stars’ opportunities. Chicago has only allowed one power play goal in 12 chances though Thursday night.