It only took 11 seconds for the Blackhawks to jump out in front of the Stars on Saturday night, but things weren’t nearly that easy the rest of the way.
Richard Panik was credited with his seventh of the season to open the scoring. A few minutes later, as he was battling Tyler Motte in the corner, Dallas defenseman Esa Lindell got absolutely lit up by Ryan Hartman. Unfortunately, the hit woke up the Stars offense.
Brett Ritchie tied the game at 7:21 and Curtis McKenzie gave the Stars a lead at 9:49, both goals coming at even strength. Corey Crawford had only allowed four even strength goals all year entering Saturday evening’s affair, and had allowed only one goal in his previous three starts combined.
Both teams put 12 shots on net in the opening 20 minutes.
In the second period, the Blackhawks stepped up the attack.
After another big hit and a Tyler Motte ping off the post, Hartman unloaded and tied the game.
Hartman’s second goal tied the game at two at 2:59 into the second period. Gustav Forsling, who had a rough night, went to the box for tripping at 4:45 but the suddenly-good Blackhawks penalty kill was solid once again. When former Blackhawks defenseman Stephen Johns was sent to the sin bin for interference at 7:21, the Hawks made the Stars pay quickly.
Artem Anisimov picked up an assist on Patrick Kane’s go-ahead goal to extend his point streak to 10 games. Over that stretch, Anisimov has seven goals and eight assists.
The Hawks out-shot the Stars 12-9 in the second period and took a one-goal lead to the third. Dallas forward Jason Spezza went to the room late in the second period and did not return for the third period.
Chicago carried the lead throughout a physical third period that saw a few bodies go flying but only one penalty – Jamie Benn hooking Anisimov – in the first 16 minutes. But Marcus Kruger was called for a double-minor when his stick caught Benn in the face on a faceoff with 1:49 left in regulation.
Dallas pulled their goalie for the power play and put a furious 90 seconds together but Crawford was up to the task. Chicago’s netminder stopped 31 of 33 in the victory to earn a fifth consecutive win for the Blackhawks.
Toews won 18 of 32 at the dot to lead the Hawks. Kruger won 10 of 17 and Anisimov won seven of 16.
The official scorer was incredibly limited in crediting hits during the game; Pat Foley noted as much during the broadcast. A very physical game only saw the Blackhawks credited with five hits officially, three of which came from Hartman who had a strong night.
Niklas Hjalmarsson was credited with eight(!!) blocked shots in the game to lead the Blackhawks. Kane was the only Hawks player to have a multi-point night; six different skaters were credited with an assist.
The Blackhawks host Dallas at the United Center on Sunday night.