Dallas Stars: Final Thoughts On An Impressive 4-0 Win Over Chicago

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 21: Jamie Benn
DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 21: Jamie Benn /

When they are on, they are definitely on. The Dallas Stars had no trouble smoking the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 on Thursday night. The win snaps a three-game losing skid for Dallas and gives them a confident start to a tough stretch ahead.

Say goodbye to another losing streak. The Dallas Stars were having none of it on Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Stars made it look easy against a divisional rival, beating the Hawks 4-0 to improve their season record against Chicago to 3-0-0.

There was a lot of good (almost too much of it) in the Stars’ play tonight, and that only creates encouraging thoughts for the rest of the upcoming stretch.

Game recap

The first period offered what many hockey fans would consider “boring hockey.” It was a lot of back and forth between the Stars and Blackhawks, but neither team had any “golden” scoring chances for a majority of the period. The Stars eventually earned a power play through all of the trade-offs, and Jamie Benn scored a goal just as the PP expired to give Dallas the 1-0 lead going into the first intermission.

Dallas Stars
Dallas Stars /

Dallas Stars

The second period started with an all you can eat scoring buffet for the Dallas Stars. Antoine Roussel scored on a deflection just 1:07 into the period, giving himself the Stars a comfortable 2-0 lead. Tyler Seguin added onto that moments later on the power play, making it a commanding 3-0 deficit. The Stars sat back for around 10 minutes and did not put one shot on net until 3:46 left in the period when Seguin found the back of the net again to make it a 4-0 lead for Dallas before intermission.

The third period was quiet for the most part, with both teams taking a combined 13 shots in the entire frame. The Stars held tight on defense and created a few offensive chances for themselves, but no goals were scored. Dallas walked away with a commanding 4-0 lead, snapping the Blackhawks’ five-game win streak and breaking a losing skid of their own.

Thoughts and Observations

These games are pretty important

Antoine Roussel summed up the importance of tonight’s win against the Hawks pretty well in his postgame interview.

“All of those division games are huge. They are four point games,” said Roussel after tonight’s win. “We try to capitalize. We have to make some ground. To go further down, you have to win against good teams.”

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Tonight’s game was perhaps one of the most important games for the Dallas Stars so far this season. It was a game between two Central Division clubs that were deadlocked in the standings and both trying to reach the 40-point mark. A win would provide a helpful boost into the playoff picture while a loss would cast a team out into the bulk of the West standings.

Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks /

Chicago Blackhawks

The Stars did what they had to and picked up a commanding win over a tough opponent. This game kicked off a four-game stretch against Central Division opponents, and it will be both challenging and crucial to succeed. Getting a win to kick things off was pretty huge.

It doesn’t hurt that the Stars did it in such a dominant and impressive fashion, either.

Ben Bishop was squeaky clean

The recent play of goaltender Ben Bishop has been shaky at best for the Dallas Stars. He has posted a save percentage under .900 in three of his last five starts and was nearing the .900 mark for the season. That’s not good for a starting goaltender of any caliber.

But Bishop found a way to bounce back, and boy was it just in time. Bishop posted his third shutout as a member of the Dallas Stars tonight, stopping all 24 shots he faced. Though there were never really any high-danger chances for Chicago, he did a good job of keeping the Stars in the game early while they established their footing.

It was a good night for the third star of the game. The next question will be whether he can keep it up against Nashville in two days.

Special teams were extra special

The Dallas Stars special teams units started the year out red hot, but have slowly drifted into mediocrity. They entered tonight’s game with the 16th best penalty kill and 17th best power play in the league.

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But after tonight’s game, those numbers are on the uptick. The Stars went 1-3 on the power play tonight, scoring on Tyler Seguin’s backhand goal. They also played the penalty kill only once, and it came late in the third.

They finished the night with a 33 percent rate on the PP and 100 percent rate on the PK. Those are pretty impressive marks against a prolific Blackhawks team.

Top guys playing like top guys again (Seguin breaking goal drought)

Tyler Seguin had two goals tonight after suffering through an eight-game goal drought. It was a big night for no. 91, who found the back of the net at even strength and on the power play.

“It feels good, especially when you’re in a bit of a slump,” Seguin said. “It gets some weight off of your shoulders a bit. I felt like I was doing a lot of good things and some was bad puck luck. And then some stuff was catching up to me and I started cheating a bit. I definitely kept thinking about getting back to the basics.”

In addition, Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn scored the opening goal in the first period.

These two, otherwise known as the Stars’ “dynamic duo,” have seen some relatively quiet patches throughout the 2017-18 season where their production has halted. It got to the point where Ken Hitchcock verbalized his desire to see the top players for Dallas contributing more often and more consistently.

They did just that tonight in addition to some depth scoring, so the offense was definitely clicking.

Capitalizing on just about every chance

It’s not every day that a team only takes 22 shots in a game and wins. It’s even less likely for that team to score four goals against a goaltender who owned a .935 save percentage entering the night.

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  • The Stars had one of their most efficient games of the year tonight in terms of capitalizing on chances. In the second period alone, they scored three goals on nine shots, including a goal on their first shot in over 10 minutes of playing time.

    The Dallas Stars as a whole ended tonight with a scoring percentage of 18.18 percent. That’s unbelievable. When a team shoots ten percent, that is impressive. 18 percent is a whole new level.

    It just goes to show that Dallas made every shot count tonight against a stingy Blackhawks defense.

    Dan Hamhuis playing role of quiet hero

    Dan Hamhuis is not known for being a flashy defender by any means. For the most part, he is a stay-at-home defender that does a majority of his work in the shadows and in the corners. Sometimes, that’s just what the Dallas Stars need him to do. And tonight, he did not disappoint.

    Hamhuis posted two assists and a +2 rating on the night. He also led the team in blocked shots with five and skated the most of any Stars player at 21:57. No. 2 was awarded the second star of the game for his efforts and really helped Dallas solidify a dominant win.

    Congrats to Hitch

    A quick tip of the cap goes out to Dallas Stars head coach Ken Hitchcock. Hitch secured his 800th career head coaching win with tonight’s victory over Chicago.

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  • “It’s impressive,” said Stars goaltender Ben Bishop. “It’s nice to get that milestone out of the way and not have to worry about it [anymore]. It says a lot about the guy. He’s obviously been around a long time and coached a lot of successful teams, and when you get 800 wins, it’s just impressive.”

    Hitchcock is just the third NHL coach to reach 800 career wins. He trails only Scotty Bowman (no longer active) and Blackhawks current head coach Joel Quenneville. What an accomplishment for Hitch. *insert stick tap here*

    It doesn’t get any easier

    The Dallas Stars will be able to celebrate this confident victory for only a short time. The team will hit the ice for practice tomorrow and prepare for the Nashville Predators on Saturday night. Nashville currently sits in first place in the Central Division and has already beaten Dallas on two separate occasions this year.

    In those two matchups, the Preds have outscored the Stars 9-3. They have made quick work of Dallas, but in order for the Stars to reach their maximum potential, they will need to come away with two points.

    This upcoming stretch continues to get tougher as it goes along, and it will be a true test to see just how prepared the Dallas Stars are to make a name for themselves.

    Next: Which Stars Will Make The 2018 All-Star Game?

    But for now, take in a 4-0 victory over a fierce division rival. We’ll talk more about that navy and gold team in the days to come.