DALLAS – The last time the Blackhawks came to Dallas, they were fine through 40 minutes before the Stars overwhelmed them in the third.
On Saturday, it was all Blackhawks from the start.
Artem Anisimov had his first four-point night in five seasons and Corey Crawford stopped 36 of 37 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Stars 5-1 at American Airlines Center. The Blackhawks now have a five-point lead over the Stars in the Central Division.
Jonathan Toews recorded the 300th assist of his career. Anisimov’s last four-point night came when he was with the New York Rangers on Jan. 19, 2011 (four assists vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs). Patrick Kane scored his 32nd goal, a new career high for a season. Niklas Hjalmarsson recorded two assists. Marian Hossa scored his 10th goal of the season and 496th of his career.
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The Blackhawks put forth one of their more dominating outings of the season, and against a team that manhandled them at the end of their last contest.
“This was a big game,” Crawford said. “I mean, the last time they took it to us and it was a closer game than the score actually said. It was definitely one of the bigger ones this year.”
Anisimov has been a good player throughout this season. But as coach Joel Quenneville said, “tonight he gets the production to show for it.” Anisimov had three assists and a shorthanded goal.
“He quietly goes about his business without the puck and is pretty handy with it,” Quenneville said. “It’s been a good season for him to date, and he’s been a big part of our team.”
Playing a Jason Spezza-less Stars – Spezza, who has 40 points on the season, is out week to week with an upper-body injury – the Blackhawks were strong and energetic from the start. They scored in various ways, be it two shorthanded goals (Hossa and Anisimov), a power-play goal (Brent Seabrook’s 34 seconds into the game) and a 4-on-4 goal (Trevor van Riemsdyk).
They also chased former Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi. Kari Lehtonen started the second period after Niemi allowed three goals on 11 first-period shots.
When the Blackhawks were here on Dec. 22 the Stars dominated them in the third period en route to a 4-0 victory. But this was a different night and the Blackhawks, who have looked good out of the All-Star break, wasted no time taking it to the Stars with Seabrook’s power-play goal.
Tyler Seguin got the lone goal past Crawford, a rebound off Jamie Benn’s shot that cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 2-1 late in the first period. But Crawford was otherwise strong, especially in the second period when the Blackhawks were on the defensive and badly outshot by the Stars.
“Yeah, seeing the puck well,” Crawford said. “A couple of rebounds there our guys were able to jump on, battle and get it out there. I thought our special teams were the difference; those two short-handed goals were pretty important tonight. Definitely thought that was one of the key factors in the win.”
The Blackhawks wanted to come out of the All-Star break refreshed and ready to go. They wanted to string together some victories on this latest road trip. They did that, ending with an exclamation point against their division rival.
“Yeah, that was a big win for us. Corey was unbelievable as usual; he came up with key saves in key moments. Special teams were good today, too. So yeah, great trip and we’re excited to go back home for a while now,” Hjalmarsson said. “We feel like we’ve been on the road for a month, almost, with the All-Star break, too. It’ll be fun to play at home again.”