Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Dallas Stars Thursday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.
1. Can Patrick Sharp stay hot against former team?
After going pointless in his previous 16 games, Sharp has three points (one goal, two assists) in his last two and had the most ice time (15:30) Tuesday in Nashville since Oct. 19 when he logged 16:17 vs. Edmonton. He even saw some power play time after being taken off it during his scoring drought.
Sharp, who spent two years with the Stars after being traded by the Blackhawks in the 2015 offseason, has also had great success against his former team. In 38 career games against Dallas, he has 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists), 13 of which (six goals, seven assists) have come on the man advantage.
Look for No. 10 in red to play with a little extra juice as his confidence continues to grow.
2. What's the deal with Richard Panik?
For three straight games, Panik has seen his ice time diminish significantly, going from 16:38 vs. Florida to 14:36 vs. Anaheim to a season-low 8:14 vs. Nashville, eight days after he logged only 12:28 against Tampa Bay which was his previous season low.
Despite all that, Joel Quenneville has not taken Panik off the top line because this is as balanced a four-line rotation the Blackhawks have had all season. But will that change soon in favor of a guy like Alex DeBrincat, who deserves to be playing top-six minutes after accumulating 13 points (nine goals, four assists) in 12 games this month?
The concern there would be taking some offensive fire power off the third line and being too top heavy, but it's worth keeping an eye on. Perhaps a second straight loss would force Quenneville to consider tinkering.
3. Look out for hat tricks.
Word of advice: If you're attending this game, bring a hat you don't mind throwing on the ice because we may have another hat trick on our hands.
There has been a hat trick at the United Center in three straight games — Miles Wood (New Jersey) on Nov. 12, Artem Anisimov on Nov. 15 and Alex DeBrincat on Monday — and to go along with that, the Stars are coming off back-to-back hat-trick games.
Tyler Seguin had one last Friday in a 6-4 win over Calgary while Radek Faksa had a natural hat trick in a span of 6:46 in Tuesday's 3-0 victory over Vegas.
What are the odds it'll be four straight in Chicago?