What Happened: After delivering a strong win on the road against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night, the Dallas Stars followed it up with another strong effort last night. The Stars went into their Thursday evening game at the Chicago Blackhawks only a couple of points out of the 8th and final playoff spot, looking to put a streak on strong games together. They started off the first period with a strong effort, but both Corey Crawford and Richard Bachman looked sharp in the first as both teams seemed to feel each other out. The Blackhawks led in shots 6-5, but the Stars came out with energy and some good plays. But in the 2nd period the Blackhawks turned the pressure up, outshooting the Stars 16-5. Although Bachman made a few huge saves, a misplay by Mark Fistric behind his own net led to Michael Frolik driving to the net and Marian Hossa firing a loose puck into the net for a 1-0 Chicago lead.
After 40 minutes things didn’t look great, but the Stars were only down by a goal. And in the third, they turned things up. Ryan Garbutt got moved up the lines and hard-work led to scoring chances as he lined-up next to Steve Ott and Adam Burish. The line scored the Stars’ first goal as Trevor Daley perfectly timed a shot from the point and Ott redirected it past Crawford to tie the game. Only a handful of minutes later, the Stars again got traffic around the Chicago crease and a Mike Ribeiro shot from a similar spot was tipped up high by Michael Ryder to make it 2-1 with about five minutes to go. Just as we all expected the Blackhawks to turn the pressure up and try to tie the game late, Dallas struck again. Ryder took the Blackhawks’ zone and spun around to create a little space, before putting a shot on net that went off Brent Seabrook‘s foot and up in the air. With the puck already in the air and behind Crawford, Loui Eriksson helped guide it home to make it a 3-1 game late. After being outshot 16-5 in the third, the Stars returned the favor by outshooting the Blackhawks 15-5 in the final frame.
What Does It Mean: The Stars might just be starting that “big streak” they have been looking for. With two impressive road wins in a row, the team now comes home for three games. If they can win two of the three at home and put together a strong week of hockey, it could be a big confidence boost moving forward. With Jamie Benn and Brenden Morrow out, the team has found ways to play smart hockey and fight for points. Recent call-up Garbutt has been very impressive, the few true top-six forwards have played well, and most of all they are getting great goaltending. After riding Kari Lehtonen for the last few weeks, the team turned to Bachman tonight and he again came through. He made a diving, highlight reel save early in the 2nd and kept the game close when the Stars were being outplayed in the middle frame. While the team will rely on Lehtonen for their attempt at a playoff push, Bachman again showed that he is a solid 2nd choice and the Stars can depend on him.
What’s Up Next: The Stars will try to hold onto the 8th spot in the West, and buck the curse of the back-to-back games. While the Stars are now 6-4-2 in the first game of back-to-backs, they are 0-9-2 heading into tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild. But both teams are coming off of playing last night, as the Wild are flying in after playing in Florida last night. The Wild won in a shootout to stay just three points behind the Stars, making tonight’s contest another big “playoff” game at home.
Tags: Adam Burish Brent Seabrook Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford Dallas Stars Kari Lehtonen Loui Eriksson Marian Hossa Mark Fistric Michael Ryder Minnesota Wild Montreal Canadiens Richard Bachman Ryan Garbutt Steve Ott