Hawks' rally falls short as Lehtonen steals show
The Chicago Blackhawks pepperd Kari Lehtonen with 50 shots on goal, and rallied in the second period from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game, but it wasn't enough as the Stars took home a 4-3 victory in Chicago's first home game back from the Circus Trip. Lehtonen was outstanding, stopping 47 shots on goal in his 400th NHL game.
The first 10 minutes of the first period were fairly back and forth, with good chances by both the Hawks and the Stars. Dallas took control of the contest at 13:47 of the first on a clean wrister by rookie Valeri Nichushkin that Corey Crawford would probably like to have back.
At 15:07 of the first, the United Center got their first opportunity to cheer as Andrew Shaw dropped the gloves with Antoine Roussel. Shaw had his jersey pulled over his head, obscuring his vision, but refused to stop, continuing to blindly throw punches in a fairly matched tilt that nonetheless saw Shaw emerge just slightly victorious.
After coincidental fighting majors, the Stars would strike again late in the first, this time on the power play, as Alex Chiasson scored on a tip from Alex Goligoski to give Dallas a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
The second period looked at first to be much of the same, as Erik Cole scored just over 3 minutes into the frame to put the Stars up by three. Roussel was called for elbowing against Jonathan Toews at 9:39 of the period, and Patrick Sharp took advantage of the ensuing power play, sending a booming shot past Lehtonen.
The Hawks would then score two goals just over a minute apart to tie the game at 3. After being benched for most of the second period, Nick Leddy sent a puck behind Lehtonen after a smooth cross-ice pass from Sheldon Brookbank to put the Hawks within one at 16:09 in the second.
Chicago would strike again just 65 seconds later, as a shot from Johnny Oduya at 17:14 skipped and bounced its way past Lehtonen to tie the game at three goals apiece, where it would stay until the end of the second.
The Stars would not go quietly, however, and had the chance to take the lead on a penalty shot three minutes into the third after a breakawy from Roussel was stopped by a hook from Niklas Hjalmarsson. Roussel skated in and shot the puck off the crossbar and past Crawford at 3:01.
The Hawks had several quality chances to tie the game back up, including a solid shift from the fourth line late in the third that came up empty. Crawford was pulled with just over 2 minutes to go in the third in an attempt to score, but the Hawks couldn't solve Lehtonen, and the score would remain at 4-3 at the final buzzer.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Valeri Nichushkin: 1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, 13:49 TOI
2. Andrew Shaw: 0 G, 1 A, 5 PIM, 15:10 TOI
3. Kari Lehtonen: 50 SA, 3 GA, .940 SV%
- Michael Handzus was a last minute scratch for the Hawks, which moved Sheldon Brookbank to the right wing of the third line. Brookbank switched off and on from foward to defenseman throughout the night.
- Tonight marked defenseman Michael Roszival's 800th NHL contest. Roszival has been in the league since 1995, and has also previously played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and Phoenix Coyotes.
- Sharp's goal tonight marked his 200th regular season goal as a Blackhawk. He is only the 18th player in the club's history to reach the milestone.
- Duncan Keith's assist on Sharp's goal marked his 8th straight game with an assist.
The Hawks are back in action on Thursday as they head to Minnesota to face the Wild. Game starts at 7:00 pm central time.