In a potential playoff preview between the Blackhawks and Stars, who would have thought the game-winning goal would be scored 102 seconds into the contest.
The Blackhawks extended their record to 6-1-1 since the trade deadline, and the key players were big once again.
Patrick Sharp was credited with that game-winner, which was the Hawks’ second goal in the first two minutes of the game. He also scored the Blackhawks fourth and final goal in the 4-1 victory, keeping him tied with Marian Hossa at 28 goals on the season; Hossa’s 28th was the third goal of the evening.
The first goal of the game came from Dave Bolland only ten seconds into the contest.
Chicago’s third period almost mirrored the first. The Hawks scored two goals in the first 1:42 of the first period, and scored two in the first 1:45 of the third to blow the game wide open. Viktor Stalberg was credited with an assist on each of Sharp’s goals. Patrick Kane, Johnny Oduya, Andrew Shaw, Brent Seabrook and Bryan Bickell were also credited with assists in the game. Shaw led the team with four blocked shots.
In net, Corey Crawford came back with an outstanding start. He stopped 21 of 22 shots in the game and stayed strong with the puck in the midst of some physical traffic at times.
Dallas clearly was trying to copy the plan employed by the St. Louis Blues, out-hitting the Hawks 41-14 in the game. But the Stars were too focused on hitting and not enough on actually playing hockey in the game, and it ultimately cost them. The Blackhawks didn’t score on four power play opportunities, but to their credit didn’t take a penalty despite receiving a number of big hits.
Steve Ott was credited with nine hits for the Stars, and appeared to be content with trying to hurt someone rather than playing the game for most of the night. He was minus-one in the contest.
Brent Seabrook had a strong night on the back end, including a bit hit on Ott behind the Hawks’ net. He was credited with three hits, two takeaways and one blocked shot in over 25 minutes of ice time.
Indeed, the ice time for the Blackhawks defensemen on Friday night is probably the ideal for the team as the playoffs approach. Both Seabrook and Duncan Keith were held under 26 minutes and Johnny Oduya skated just over 24 in the game. Nick Leddy was under 19 minutes, Niklas Hjalmarsson was under 16 and Dylan Olsen was held under nine minutes on the night.
In their run of solid play since the trade deadline, the Hawks have outscored their opponents 23-20, and have held opponents to fewer than 30 shots in six of the eight games. In their last four games, the Hawks have allowed only 100 shots on net and just nine goals (not including Mike Richards’ shootout game-winner for LA).