The Blackhawks celebrated Brad Richards’ 1,000th career game with a third period offensive explosion, blowing the Dallas Stars out 6-2 in their final home game of November.
The Hawks jumped out to an early lead as Patrick Kane set up Duncan Keith 78 seconds into the game for the reigning Norris Trophy winner’s fourth goal of the season. Unfortunately, Dallas scored twice in the next 4:10 to take a brief 2-1 lead.
But on this night, the Hawks wouldn’t let sloppy play get them off their game.
Brent Seabrook scored a power play goal at 11:58, also set up by Kane, to tie the game. The first period – and second – would end with the score tied.
Unfotunately, the Blackhawks lost defenseman Trevor vanRiemsdyk after only four shifts. He was hit by Trevor Daly and left the ice, and then was helped to the dressing room. After the game, coach Joel Quenneville used the dreaded “he’ll miss a while” when speaking about TvR, and said the team would likely have to recall a defenseman from Rockford to take the rookie’s place.
With only five defensemen – including Michal Rozsival – skating the rest of the way, the Blackhawks and Corey Crawford were able to shut down the Dallas offense.
In the third period, the two teams skated up and down the ice for four minutes before the flood gates opened.
Kane scored the eventual game-winner off a pretty pass from Richards at 4:49 to give the Hawks a lead they wouldn’t surrender. The Hawks then added three goals in less than three minutes to blow the game open.
Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg and Brandon Saad added the insurance goals in a flurry of offense the likes of which the United Center crowd hasn’t seen in some time. Chicago put 23 shots on net in the final 20 minutes and Kari Lehtonen was no match for the barrage.
Chicago finished the game out-shooting the visitors 47-24.
Kane and Versteeg each had one goal and two assists in the game to lead the onslaught. Toews and Keith had one goal and one assist each, and Richards posted two assists in his best game in the Indian head sweater.
Richards was on a line with Kane and Versteeg and the three clicked immediately, leading to Keith’s goal early in the first period. The veteran center skated 18:20 and won eight of 19 faceoffs with five shots on net and one takeaway.
Marian Hossa added two assists and tied Toews for a team-high seven shots on net in the game. Andrew Shaw fought Antoine Roussel in the middle of the first period and led the Hawks with three hits in the game, while Keith and Johnny Oduya led the team with two blocked shots.
Even with vanRiemsdyk out after only four shifts, Quenneville was able to spread out the ice time on his blue line. Keith predictably led the way, but only skated 25:31 in the victory. Rozsival played 19:55 and was credited with an assist in the game.
In his first game back up in the NHL, Joakim Nordstrom played 12:15 and was credited with two takeaways and one blocked shot. Bryan Bickell and Daniel Carcillo were the lowest ice time recipients on Sunday night, skating less than nine minutes and 16 shifts each in the win. Bickell was minus-one and had one hit in the game, while Carcillo managed two hits and two penalty minutes.
Crawford was phenomenal again between the pipes, keeping the Hawks in the game as Dallas carried the action in the first period. He made 17 saves in the first two periods before the Hawks took over, limited the Stars to only five shots in the third; Crawford finished the night with 22 saves against 24 shots.
The Hawks killed the only Stars power play of the game after Carcillo went to the box for the game’s final 1:31. Chicago converted one of their three power play opportunities.
The United Center won’t host another Hawks game until Dec. 3, as the Hawks head out on their annual Circus Trip. We’ll have to wait and see who gets the call from Rockford to fill vanRiemsdyk’s spot on the roster.