DALLAS – Here’s one thing you can say about the Blackhawks-Dallas Stars matchups this season: whoever has won each game, it’s done it in convincing fashion.
Friday night’s outing followed that formula, as the Stars came out blazing and upended the Blackhawks 5-2. Some of the Blackhawks’ problems looked familiar. Their offense looked absent.
So before we head back home, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to the Stars.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]
1. The penalty kill struggles again. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the Blackhawks’ kill, and it didn’t look too good on Friday, either. The Blackhawks gave up two more power-play goals – to Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn – in this one. The penalty kill cost the Blackhawks a point in St. Louis. It helped cost them two in Dallas. So is this now a concern? “I wouldn’t say concern,” Marian Hossa said, “but we definitely have to be on the same page.”
2. Hossa returns. The Blackhawks right wing said he wasn’t coming back from his lower body injury until he was 100 percent. He looked like he felt good on Friday night. Hossa was back to his strong self on the puck, drawing a penalty and getting a team-high six shots on goal. Hossa took his return for what it was. “I felt good but obviously the result isn’t there, so can’t be happy about it,” he said.
3. Stars overcome injuries. Patrick Sharp is hurt. So is Jason Demers, Jordie Benn and John Klingberg. That didn’t seem to matter to the Stars, who played like they were at full speed and with a full roster. And with that, full credit to the Stars for truly not using injuries as an excuse.
4. The third line clicks. If there was a bright spot for the Blackhawks on Friday it was their third line. Tomas Fleischmann and Teuvo Teravainen each scored, and Dale Weise joined that line – Fleischmann and Weise played together earlier this season in Montreal, and both said the chemistry was there from the start. The Blackhawks didn’t get much overall on Friday but that line was noticeable for the right reasons. “That was one positive tonight,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That line was effective.”
5. Let the Central Division fun begin. Actually it’s been crazy for a while and it’s really going to be entertaining down the stretch. There are a whole two points separating the Dallas Stars (in first) and the Blackhawks (in third). Two points, that’s all. Buckle up, folks.