The Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars had matching 5 game winning streaks so something had to give Monday night at the United Center.
The first period was a re-run of many Hawks games of late with the Hawks dominating play and shots on goals but when the horn sounds to end the period their is very little difference between the Hawks and their opponents on the scoreboard. The only goal of the period was a very pretty goal with Brandon Saad passing to Marian Hossa who one-timed a pass right on to The Captain’s stick for the 1-0 lead. Jonathan Toews with his 21st goal took over the team lead in goals from Patrick Kane.
The second period started with Viktor Stalberg showing off his jets and finally finishing getting the puck past Richard Bachman who has been playing for the injured Kari Lehtonen. The Hawks seemed to be in cruise control until Patrick Kane made a rare turnover this season which led to a Stars 3 on 1 and Jamie Benn capitalized with the Stars first goal of the contest. The Hawks again failed on the power play going 0-4 tonight and in their current winning streak they haven’t scored with the extra man advantage. This is the second straight season of unwatchable power play hockey which could really come back to bite the Hawks in the playoffs.
The third period didn’t start on a good note when a clearing attempt hit a referee and it set up Benn’s second goal of the night and a tie contest. The tie didn’t last long when Kaner, making amends for his earlier turnover, made a great pass to Andrew Shaw who buried it for the 3-2 lead. Ray Emery didn’t get a lot of action, but was solid stopping 16-18 shots. Three minutes after Shaw scored on a great pass, Marian Hossa got into the act and found Niklas Hjalmarsson in the middle of the ice and he blasted one past Bachman for the insurance goal and a 4-2 lead. This was Hjalmarsson 2nd goal of the season and first in 27 games. The Stars pulled the goalie fairly early, since they were desperate for points, with 2:22 left and it didn’t cost them until 20 seconds left when it looked like Marian Hossa was trying to get his 3rd assist of the game, but ended up getting his 16th goal of the year and the final tally in a 5-2 win.
The Hawks now get 3 days off before the final stretch of games to end the season. The Hawks have not only been good all year but incredibly consistent. They now sit with 70 points in 42 games which is pretty amazing, and they are closing in fast on the #1 seed in the West. They are back on the ice Friday night against the Predators in Chicago….bring your pillow!
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