DALLAS – The Blackhawks were facing a Dallas Stars team that certainly has its injury woes. But the Stars made life tough on the Blackhawks last season, and regardless of lineup it was going to be another tussle on Saturday night.
But the Blackhawks got through with what’s again becoming a strength.
Hey, these two are right back at it again tomorrow, so let’s not waste time. Here are the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 victory over the Stars.
1. The kill keeps killing. Admit it: you were holding your breath when Marcus Kruger was whistled for high-sticking with 1:49 remaining in regulation. You probably turned a light shade of blue when the Stars emptied their net for a 6-on-4 advantage. But the Blackhawks penalty kill is back to what we’re used to seeing. For a while, all we were talking about is the 15 goals it’s allowed thus far. But including tonight’s game, they’ve now killed off 15 penalties in a row.
2. Ryan Hartman’s night. Hartman gave the Blackhawks a boost early in the second period when his second goal of the season tied the game 2-2. Excuse us for all the twos there. Anyway, be it that goal or his physical presence, Hartman earned the praise of several teammates (Corey Crawford and Patrick Kane among them). The Blackhawks always look to their third- and fourth-line guys for some energy and appreciate any points they get as well. Hartman provided a little of both tonight.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
3. First period better, but still not great. The first-period shot total was fine, with the Blackhawks and Stars each recording 12. But the quality level was firmly in the Stars’ corner. They were tenacious, they were driving to the net and getting into Corey Crawford’s comfort zone. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, got their first goal off an up-close rebound and then went back to perimeter shots. As coach Joel Quenneville said, “it wasn’t as poor as our other first periods and we had some chances. But it’s still not good enough. That’s the part where we have to be better, at the start.”
4. Another night, another point. Artem Anisimov kept his point streak alive, running it to a career-best 10 games with his primary assist on Patrick Kane’s power-play goal in the second period. Anisimov was once again in front of the net when he made that pass to Kane. Corey Crawford said, “it makes all the difference in the world when you have a guy in front screening the goalie, making it tough on him. It’s a way different game for a goalie when you have someone there and you have to look for the puck all the time in the zone.”
5. Andrew Desjardins is returning. With Desjardins coming off the injured reserve list on Saturday (Trevor van Riemsdyk is now on it), it looks like the forward will return Sunday night against the Stars. Who comes out? That remains to be seen. Hartman looked great tonight, so you’d imagine he’d stay in. Same with Dennis Rasmussen. Whoever it is, it’s more about what the Blackhawks will add. Desjardins bulks up the team’s forward depth and brings another seasoned penalty killer back into the fold.