DALLAS -- The true mark of a champion is finding a way to win when that appears unlikely. And that's exactly what the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks have been doing for a good part of their current road trip.
On Friday, the Blackhawks won their fifth straight, beating the Dallas Stars 2-1 when Ben Smith delivered the clinching goal as Chicago's 11th shooter in the shootout.
"It was fun," Smith said. "A great opportunity, it was awesome. I just knew I was going to try and keep it simple, shoot the puck, and I was fortunate that it went in."
Smith beat Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen with a wrister over the goalie's glove after Lehtonen had stopped the Blackhawks' previous eight attempts.
"Pretty remarkable we've had three games out of the last four down 1-0 in the third and we find a way to win. That showed great character tonight," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.
Patrick Sharp, the Blackhawks' No. 2 shooter, also converted for Chicago in the shootout. It was Sharp who tied the game in the third period.
Rich Peverley, who had Dallas' lone goal in regulation, converted in the shootout as the Stars' third shooter.
Crawford stopped 10 of 11 shots in the shootout and 28 of 29 in regulation and overtime to earn his 17th win.
Quenneville lauded not just Smith's effort in the win, but that of his entire fourth line, a group that also includes Brandon Bollig and Marcus Kruger.
"Yeah, that line's been very effective. I think they had another good game. You look in the last four wins, they've been outstanding," Quenneville said. "They start in their own end almost every shift, and they end up in the other team's end at the end of it. So, that's what we look for. I think we had that success with that group last year and been a staple with that this year. I think it really makes us a better team."
Both teams showcased their pace early, but it was the Stars who struck first when Peverley scored his fifth of the season into an open net at 16:40 of the first period.
Stars center Shawn Horcoff won a battle for the puck with Chicago goalie Corey Crawford and flipped a backhand pass to Peverley, who finished with a wrister from the low slot to make it 1-0.
Crawford made a valiant effort to get back in the crease to make a play on Peverley's shot, but was a bit late. He slapped his stick to the ice in disgust after the puck went in the goal.
Peverley also had another of Dallas' better scoring chances in the first period. At 9:49, he cranked a slap shot from the right point, forcing Crawford to make the stop and scramble to cover the puck as it rolled toward the goal.
Dallas outshot Chicago 11-9 in the first period and 29-26 for the game.
At 2:39 of the second, the Stars had a great chance to make it a two-goal game after rookie right wing Alex Chiasson was hooked by Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook on a breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot. However, Chiasson's low wrister clanged off the left post, and it remained 1-0.
Crawford remains perfect on penalty shots in his career at 9-for-9. Dallas is 1-for-3 on penalty shots this season, their lone goal coming from Vernon Fiddler on Nov. 5 at the Boston Bruins.
"We work on it sometimes in practice," Crawford said. "It's a key situation in the game. It's important if we go down by two goals. I was just trying to come up with a save and keep our team in it."
The Blackhawks earned the first power play of the game at 11:31 of the second period when Peverley was whistled for tripping. With Dallas on the penalty kill, veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas left the ice on a stretcher at 12:34 with a broken leg.
Robidas was attempting to impede Chicago's Jonathan Toews near the left faceoff circle when he fell to the ice before going into the end boards.
"It didn't look good," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of Robidas' injury. "He's been playing real well. [He and Brenden Dillon] have been a big pair for us. That was probably one of the only real big negatives. Robi is a battler and he's really played hard and played well this year for us."
Dallas went on the power play for the first time in the game at 13:57 when Niklas Hjalmarsson was called for tripping, but the Chicago penalty kill was strong and killed off the opportunity.
With 3:05 remaining before the second intermission, Sharp was called for slashing and Dallas' Trevor Daley for cross-checking, making it 4-on-4. However, neither team was able to capitalize with the extra space.
After keeping it close through the first two periods, the Blackhawks finally struck at 7:21 of the third when Sharp scored his 10th of the season, deflecting in a pass from Duncan Keith to make it 1-1.
"It was a heck of a game. The pace was incredible," Quenneville said. "The first period was tremendous pace. They work hard, and they've got a lot of speed on you. They keep pressure on you. I thought we hung in there well."
Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski started the sequence by trying to clear the puck from the Dallas zone with a backhand from the left corner. However, Keith corralled the attempted clear and sent the puck toward the Dallas net, and Sharp redirected it from dead center for the equalizer.
Ray Whitney tested Crawford from the left circle with 3:46 remaining in regulation, but Crawford stopped play with a solid glove save on Whitney's slapper from the left circle.
At 4:58 of overtime, Goligoski attempted to connect with a 62-foot wrister from the left point, but Crawford denied his effort. Chiasson tried to flip in the rebound, but his shot went wide of the Chicago net just before the horn sounded.
Chicago concludes its seven-game road trip Saturday at the Phoenix Coyotes. Dallas hosts the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday afternoon to finish a three-game homestand.
Blackhawks center Patrick Kane saw his 11-game point streak, which equaled the longest of his career, come to end against the Stars.
|Back to top ↑|