The Blackhawks were looking pretty good for two periods. They were holding a very offensive-minded Dallas Stars team in check and they were getting some decent scoring opportunities themselves.
And then it all went bye-bye in the third period, when the Stars, led by Patrick Sharp, went on a three-goal tear for a 4-0 victory. The Blackhawks weren’t too happy with the way this one ended, whether it was the score or just the way the played – or didn’t play – that third period.
But sometimes, that’s the way the cookie-left-for-Santa crumbles. So before we call it a break – Christmas, that is – let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to the Stars.
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1. The power play goes quiet. The Blackhawks have found much success with their advantage this season. But when they got two early power plays against the Stars on Tuesday, they didn’t get a shot. On either power play. Against a team like Dallas, you have to take advantage of every opportunity you get. The Blackhawks didn’t on those.
2. Dallas can score in bunches. That was evident last year and it’s looking that way against this season. And on Tuesday, the Stars made the third period their own highlight reel. The Stars got two quick goals in the first three minutes of the third and then added another late in the period. Speaking of that…
3. Sharp with the finish. Sharp wasn’t making much noise for the Stars through the first two periods (we’ll get to that below) but he certainly did to start the third. His 12th goal of the season came just 11 seconds into the third period and fellow former Blackhawk Johnny Oduya was one of the first to come over and help celebrate the goal with him. The night overall, however, was bittersweet for Sharp. “It really wasn't that fun of a game,” he said. “It's tough to play against your friends. Hockey's a game you play with a lot of intensity, and that's hard to do against your buddies.”
4. Fourth line has the tough job. Andrew Desjardins, Phillip Danault and former Stars forward Ryan Garbutt went up against the Stars’ top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Sharp. They did a good job on the evening, holding the trio off the score sheet through the first two periods. Patrick Sharp – whose assist earlier in the game came on the power play – finally broke through in the third, but that wasn’t against the fourth line.
5. The Blackhawks enter the break at 20-12-4. You know, that’s really not a bad record for a team that entered this season with a lot of uncertainty. Obviously their recent outings helped better that record; they’ve gone 7-4-1 so far this month. It was going to take time for the Blackhawks to get some chemistry and balance. It looks like they may be getting that now.