Dallas began their three-game road trip with a shootout loss at a sold-out United Center in snowy Chicago on Tuesday night.
Electricity was in the air early as the two sides combined for four goals on just 13 first-period shots. But for every goal Dallas scored, Patrick Kane responded.
The 21-year old right wing continued to prove he has no qualms beating Dallas Stars goaltenders with two first-period goals, and his ninth tally in 11 career meetings against the Stars.
As the Stars embarked on one of the most crucial road trips of the season, they received news that two more players had been bitten by the injury bug. Steve Ott’s emergency appendectomy and defenseman Mark Fistric’s arthroscopic knee surgery left Dallas short handed heading into Chicago. But just when they needed it most, they got center Mike Ribeiro back.
Ribeiro made his return to the Dallas line-up after missing 15 games with a throat contusion when he was struck with an errant stick on January 6 against the New York Rangers. The Montreal native was intended to be used sparingly, but his impact was felt almost immediately, beating Antti Niemi at 8:27 of the first period.
With the Dustin Byfuglien in the penalty box for interference and the Stars on their second power play of the period, Fabian Brunnstrom dug the puck out of the corner to Niemi’s left. The puck ended up on the stick of James Neal who spotted a wide-open Ribeiro across the slot. Ribeiro rifled the puck past Niemi for his first goal since the Blackhawks visited Dallas on Dececember 29th.
“As the game was going I felt better and better. I wasn’t expecting that much ice time. I played a lot more than I thought I would, but I felt good,” Ribeiro said after the game. “My first game was against a top team in a hard building to play in. But it was good to start here, with the fans singing the anthem and everyone screaming, you get goosebumps.”
The Stars would soon find out, every goal they scored was a call-to-action for Patrick Kane.
Kane got Chicago on the board at 13:54 of the first period, with a wrist shot from a closed angle to the right of goaltender Marty Turco. Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook picked up the assists on the play.
The Stars kept getting the puck in deep past the Blackhawks defensemen, and soon enough, James Neal found the score sheet for the second time in the period with his team-leading 24th goal of the season and second in as many games.
The play developed when defenseman Jeff Woywitka teed up a shot from the blue-line and Neal soon found himself with the rebound on his stick. He was able to jam it home for the Stars’ second lead of the period and his second consecutive multi-point game. Neal’s effort in the game gives him two goals and three assists for five points in his last two games.
Dallas was unable to carry the lead into the locker room as a minute and a half later, Kane carried the puck behind the Stars’ net and lifted it over Turco’s left shoulder with just 29 seconds remaining in the period.
Chicago stormed the Dallas zone in the second period, peppering Marty Turco with 16 shots, compared to the seven shots Dallas put on Niemi.
The Stars managed to return some pressure, however, when Brent Seabrook was whistled for interference midway through the period. But Chicago, who entered the game as the league’s fourth best penalty kill and second best at home, stood tall, refusing to concede a second power play goal to the Stars.
The Blackhawks continued to hover in the Dallas zone, but the Stars defensemen, led by Stephane Robidas and Nicklas Grossman, were able to keep most of the action to the outside, prohibiting Chicago from creating traffic in front of the net.
The highlight of the period game with 2:25 remaining in the frame as Dustin Byfuglien sprung free on a breakaway behind a Dallas attack. Turco sprawled out to his stick side catching a piece of Byfuglien’s backhanded shot with his blocker, and keeping the score even through 40 minutes.
The Blackhawks earned their first lead of the game at the 6:13 mark of the third period after a Dallas turnover in the offensive zone led to a Chicago rush led by Marian Hossa. The right winger ripped a shot to the left of the goal that ricocheted off the end boards, back in front of the net. A waiting Troy Brouwer made no mistake on the rebound, netting his 18th goal of the season.
Chicago kept applying offensive pressure after taking the lead, but Dallas’ top line needed just one opportunity to equalize.
Neal’s solid work fore-checking below the Chicago end-line produced yet another turnover that was kicked out to Brad Richards. The Stars’ leading scorer passed it through the slot to an open Loui Eriksson who needed only to hit the 4x6 frame to send the game to overtime.
Neither side was able to score in the overtime despite a Dallas power play in the final two minutes of the extra frame.
With neither team able to score in the first four rounds of the shootout, Kris Versteeg snuck the puck in between Turco’s legs to give Chicago their first win of the season over Dallas. The Stars suffered their 12th overtime loss of the season, and eighth by way of shootout.
“We did good things tonight, but it’s a tough when you lose in a shootout. It’s tough but I think we played well tonight,” said winger James Neal who finished with a goal and two assists. “It’s going to be a tough couple more games here before the break but we’ll put this one behind us and take the good things we did with us into Calgary.”
The Stars will travel to Calgary to take on the Flames on Thursday night, their first trip to the Saddledome since beating them 5-2 on October 9th.
1 - 0 DAL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 DAL
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 CHI