Even with a fantastic game happening on the ice, the action off the ice might end up being the headlines after tonight’s Blackhawks win over the Stars.
Antti Niemi allowed three goals on 27 shots, Patrick Kane scored two first period goals and Kris Versteeg closed the deal in the shootout as the Hawks finally beat Dallas for the first time in three games this year. With the 4-3 victory, Niemi has now won starts in consecutive games for the first time this year.
Brent Sopel earned huge hero points in the overtime when he skated an entire two minutes penalty, blocked a handful of shots and, just after the penalty expired and without his stick, swatting the puck around the board with his hand to clear the action out from behind the net. After a couple questionable passes early in the game, Sopelshowed up huge in the overtime and should get a good deal of the credit for the Hawks’ second point on Tuesday night. For the game, Sopel played an incredible 4:45 shorthanded.
For the Stars, Marty Turco did all he could to earn a win. He faced 40 shots, 38 of which were in regulation, and allowed just the two goals to Kane and one to Troy Brouwer in the third period. He continued his excellence in the shootout, but takes the loss after Versteeg beat him.
Both teams might have some drama on their rosters between the final horn and tomorrow morning, though.
First, for the Stars, a trade was consummated during the first period that brings young goaltender Kari Lehtonen from Atlanta in exchange for defenseman prospect Ivan Vishnevskiy and a fourth round draft pick. Vishnevskiy, 21,was one of Dallas’ top prospects after the Stars selected the in the first round of the 2006 draft. The addition of Lehtonen, who has spent time with the Chicago Wolves, means Dallas has three goalies on their roster.
Turco has been a hot name in rumors for months, and this could only build the speculation that his days in Dallas are numbered or even over. Indeed, rumors began to fly even during Tuesday night’s game that the Stars and Flyers were talking about a deal that would send Turco to Philadelphia in the wake of Ray Emery getting hurt. The Stars play in Calgary on Thursday night, so it will be interesting to see how many plane tickets the Stars have when they arrive at O’Hare this evening.
For the Blackhawks, a small observation from the television crew might lead to some intrigue tonight. John Madden and Colin Fraser both left the bench early (Madden in the second period, Fraser in the third) and were not heard from again. For the game, Madden played just 9:12 and Fraser saw only 6:50 on the ice. Versteeg stepped in as a third center as the Hawks played with abbreviated lines throughout the third period. What made the move even more frustrating was that Madden had won 10 of 12 faceoffs before leaving. Versteeg, however, won four of five faceoffs in his time in the circle and looked good between Marian Hossa and Brouwer.
According to coach Joel Quenneville after the game, Madden sustained a lower body injury and is doubtful for the two games this weekend. Fraser appeared to take a puck to the face and did not return. Whether or not these injuries lead to a roster move is questionable; it’s more likely that it could keep Stan Bowman from pulling the trigger before the Olympics. We’ll see if Jordan Hendry skates as a forward over the weekend or if a player is brought up from Rockford, perhaps Jacob Dowell or Jack Skille.
The Blackhawks failed to score on the power play again on Tuesday, going 0-3 with the advantage. The Hawks now haven’t scored with an advantage in six games and have only scored once in 25 opportunities over their last eight games.