Thursday night was supposed to be an emotional return to the United Center for Patrick Sharp. And, to a lesser extent, Johnny Oduya.
A lot of special memories with this guy.
Thank you, Sharpy. pic.twitter.com/zDC85c2jVG
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 12, 2016
But fans were left wondering what happened to the division-leading Blackhawks after a 20-minute barrage left Chicago looking up at a four-goal deficit.
Patrick Eaves came into Thursday night’s game with four goals on the season. He scored three times – twice on the power play – in the first period as Dallas ran up an insurmountable lead. Thankfully, Brandon Mashinter was there to drop the gloves with Travis Moen. He energized his teammates… into giving up the next three goals.
Corey Crawford allowed four goals against 18 shots and got the hook before the second began. Scott Darling came in and stopped all 12 shots he faced in the second period. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Kari Lehtonen stopped all 25 he faced in the first two periods and the Hawks were still chasing four.
Duncan Keith broke up Lehtonen’s shutout bid 32 seconds into the third period, scoring his eighth of the season.
Patrick Kane scored his 33rd of the season seven minutes later to make the lead 4-2 in favor of the Stars. Kane was trying to keep pace with Alexander Ovechkin, who had a hat trick on Thursday night to give Washington’s star 34 on the season. Jonathan Toews picked up assists on each of the Hawks’ two goals.
To his credit, Lehtonen made some enormous saves in the third period as the Hawks finally woke up and carried the attack. He had huge stops against Andrew Shaw and, in the final two minutes, Trevor van Riemsdyk to preserve the two points for Dallas. Lehtonen stopped 19 of 21 in the third period and 44 of 46 overall in the victory.
Darling stopped all 14 shots he faced in the final 40 minutes.
Artemi Panarin missed his second consecutive game because of an illness that coach Joel Quenneville indicated earlier in the day could be similar to what Toews dealt with before the break.
Sharp played in his 800th regular season game on Thursday night, 679 of which game as a member of the Blackhawks.