Does Dallas have Cristobal Huet’s number?
Coach Joel Quenneville pulled Huet less than two minutes into the second period after he had allowed four goals on Dallas’ first 10 shots. Oddly enough, the last time the Blackhawks played Dallas on Oct. 17 was when the bandwagon to bench Huet reached it’s hottest. In that game, Huet allowed four ugly goals, including one that hit off a loose section of glass in the corner and bounced into the net past a seemingly uninterested Huet.
After a breakout week in which he posted consecutive shutouts, Huet hasn’t look much like a star. Since shutting out Detroit on Dec. 20, Huet has allowed eight goals in 50 shots, with Tuesday night’s early exit being the latest troubling outing from the Hawks’ goaltender.
Antti Niemi relieved Huet and performed admirably, though he took the loss. He allowed just one goal on 14 shots, but it was the game winning goal to Steve Ott on an early third period power play that ended up being the difference. The goal was Ott’s second of the game, and seventh of the season, as the Stars improved to 2-0-0 against the first place Blackhawks.
Patrick Kane led an offensive attack that did all it could to buoy the struggling goaltender. Kane scored two more goals, giving him seven in his last five games and extending his total to a team-leading 17. Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell and Jonathan Toews all continued their strong play as Keith and Campbell were credited with one assist and Toews two in the loss. Dustin Byfuglien had two assists in the game, nearly doubling his season total from three to five.
The Blackhawks had plenty of opportunities, and took advantage many times. A struggling power play unit had two goals in four attempts in Dallas, as Troy Brouwer opened the scoring with the advantage and Kane scored his first of the game on the power play later in the first. But the Hawks’ normally-excellent power play killing defense wasn’t as good on Tuesday, allowing two goals in five opportunities for the Stars. Ott’s game winner was with the advantage, a Cam Barker penalty for high sticking. Coming into the game, the Hawks had killed their opponents’ last 25 power plays.
Quenneville didn’t have much to be concerned about with his offense after the game, as they converted four of 37 shots and skated well on the power play. Colin Fraser finally scored his first goal of the season as the offense was bouncing early, but his goaltending was certainly an issue, and could continue to be moving forward. After the game, Quenneville said about the change in net, ”I had to do something. They were going in too easy. It was an easy call.”
If you wanted a worst-case scenario to magnify the issues in net for Huet, it comes in the form of Martin Brodeur and the Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey Devils at the United Center on New Year’s Eve.