The Dallas Stars were able to start strong, but couldn't close the deal in the first game of an elongated road trip.
Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists, and Nikolai Khabibulin made 21 saves in Chicago's 5-2 win over Dallas at the United Center on Friday night.
Loui Eriksson scored the game's first goal -- and fourth in his last four games -- and Steve Ott also tallied for the Stars, whose five-game road trip continues Saturday in Boston.
Cam Barker added a goal and assist, and Brent Sopel, Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien also scored for Chicago, which improved to an impressive 4-0-2 at home to start the season.
"It's fun playing in front of the home crowd, especially against a team like Dallas," said Kane, the 2007 No. 1 overall pick who has 10 points in his last six games.
Backup goalie Tobias Stephan started for the second straight game instead of Marty Turco for the Stars (4-5-2), with the majority of the 32 shots he faced being uncontested. Stephan was perhaps Dallas' lone defensive bright spot until Chicago broke the game open with a pair of goals late in the third period that iced it.
The rookie goalie, making just his fifth appearance of his career, consistently made big saves to help cover-up breakdowns that led to over 10 odd-man rushes for the Blackhawks. He kept the game within reach for Dallas, but Ladd and Byfuglien scored goals two minutes apart starting at 6:10 of the third to put it away.
"Our play with the puck wasn't very good," center Mike Modano said. "We are not coming up ice in-sync and making good passes. We are chasing from behind. We are having lots of breakdowns and it's been a long time since I've seen that many odd-man rushes against. We are over-pursuing and trying to do too much."
The Stars failed to build off their strong 4-2 win over previously unbeaten Minnesota on Wednesday, and continue to be plagued by mental lapses at inopportune times. They've allowed the most goals in the league, with opponents lighting the lamp an average of just over four times.
"It wasn't very consistent," captain Brenden Morrow said. "We had two good periods, but then we got on the wrong side of the puck late. Our skill game should've been out the window, and instead playing an ugly road game. We had too many odd-man rushes in the third, and we got too fancy late. We didn't have any problem getting it into their zone, we just pressed a little bit and didn't make smart plays."
Dallas wasn't helped by the absence of a couple of key forwards. Brad Richards (lower body) and Joel Lundqvist (shoulder) both missed the game, forcing coach Dave Tippett to re-shuffle his lines right off the bat.
Tippett slotted Ott in the middle of Sean Avery and Chris Conner, who arrived from Peoria of the AHL just prior to the game. Toby Petersen anchored Krys Barch and Fabian Brunnstrom on the fourth line.
In the third period, Tippett changed it up again, moving Modano between Conner and Brunnstrom to help stir a stagnant offense that had registered just 13 shots through the first two periods.
"We just made too many mistakes, across the board," Tippett said. "You can't allow odd-man rush after odd-man rush like that. Those are just brain cramps. We didn't move the puck well and gave up way too may chances. We have guys trying to chip it in and we just aren't getting the job done."
Ott tied the game at 2 at 7:38 of the second period, scoring his second goal of the year while on a breakaway. Barch was able to hit Ott with a long pass from inside the Dallas zone, and Ott went in alone on Khabibulin and the puck squirted between the Russian netminder's legs.
It was the first of just three shots the Stars were able to muster in the middle frame, with Ott registering two of them.
Sopel helped Chicago regain its advantage with less than seven minutes to go in the second, scoring his first goal to make it 3-2. The Blackhawks defenseman let a bullet rip from the top of the right circle that tinged off the left post before settling in the net behind a screened Stephan.
Dallas was also unable to cash in on a two-man advantage that lasted over a minute in the second period. They didn't get a shot on goal during that costly span.
"That was our chance to build a lead and we didn't do it," Tippett said. "We didn't move the puck and when you do that you're not going to have many chances."
Center Mike Ribeiro agreed:
"The momentum switch came when we had the 5-on-3 and didn’t capitalize on it. We gave the Blackhawks way too many breaks."
The Stars opened the scoring six minutes into the game when Eriksson potted his fifth of the year, converting a neat tic-tac-toe passing play. Ribeiro began the sequence with a pass to Morrow in the lower part of the left circle. Morrow immediately fed Eriksson, who was able to kick the puck from his skate to his stick before shoveling it in while standing to the left of Khabibulin.
The Blackhawks knotted things up midway through the first, as Barker scored his first of the year with Chicago on the power play. Barker's wicked slap shot from the left point eluded Stephan, who was being screened by Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews.
Kane upped Chicago's advantage with 70 second left in the first. Off the rush, Martin Havlat slid a short pass to Kane, who was driving to the net through the slot. Kane promptly lifted the puck over Stephan for his sixth of the season.
Ladd made it 4-2 at 13:50 of the third with his first of the year, converting a 2-on-1 break with Barker.
Byfuglien's first of the season capped the scoring, with the puck going off the toe of his right skate and past Stephan with four minutes to go in regulation.
"It's frustrating after 11 games to be where we are," Morrow said.
The Stars now head to Boston where they will play the Northeast Division Bruins on Saturday night (6, FSN), where Turco is expected to get the nod in net.
The 5-3-3 Bruins just completed a successful trip through Western Canada where they won two of three. However, that one loss was against Calgary on Thursday.
"We have to bounce back quickly and be ready to play much better," Ribeiro said. "We couldn't get the momentum and then we had to chase the game. We have to play better defensively, bottom line."
-- The Stars placed Lundqvist on injured reserve prior to the game. He's expected to miss 4-6 weeks because of his shoulder problem.
-- Conner had accumulated seven points in eight games with the Rivermen.
-- Richards is day-to-day with his lower body injury.
-- Stephan picked up his first point of his career with an assist on Ott's goal.
-- Ott has now scored in consecutive games for the second time in his career. He also accomplished the feat last season in a pair of games against Vancouver and Edmonton that bridged January and February.
-- Eriksson has a four-game point streak (4-2-6), matching his career-long from Feb. 22-28, 2008 (6-0-6).
-- Defenseman Stephane Robidas played in his 500th career NHL game. He played 45 games for the Blackhawks in 2003-04.
-- Morrow has points in nine of the first 11 games to start the season.
-- Four Chicago players scored their first goal of the year.
-- The Stars are now 15-4-2 in their last 21 meetings with the Blackhawks.
-- Dallas dropped to 3-1-1 when scoring first this season.
-- The Stars fell to 2-4 on the road.
-- Dallas was unable to convert on any of its five power-play opportunities. Chicago was 1-for-4 with the man advantage.