DALLAS – What started as a rather dull game turned out to be anything but on Saturday night. The Blackhawks were once again sweating it a bit in the third period but, after flirting with another tough loss, they pulled it out.
As Niklas Hjalmarsson said, they don’t care how they get the two points, just as long as they do. So before we head home from Ice Show Trip, Part I, let’s look at five things to take away from the Blackhawks’ 5-3 victory over the Stars.
1. The right response in the third. The Blackhawks were down 3-2 nearing the midway point of the third and, considering they hadn’t scored a third-period goal since Jan. 22 against Vancouver, this one wasn’t looking good. Well that Stars lead lasted a whole 35 seconds before Patrick Kane’s slick backhand. The Blackhawks kept coming after that, with two more goals (Trevor van Riesmdyk’s game winner and Jonathan Toews’ empty-net goal). Yes, dicey and the lost lead was again a bit worrisome. But you’re looking for the necessary response, and the Blackhawks had it in this one.
2. Ryan Hartman’s massive block. Jamie Benn had a gaping net in front of him, as Corey Crawford was pulled to his glove side on a previous stop. But a moment later Benn also had Hartman in front of him, blocking the shot and saving a goal. Hjalmarsson, who’s made a career out of making critical blocks, was proud of that one. “Oh, that was huge. I was screaming at him at the bench. That would’ve been a goal otherwise. It would’ve been a tap in. Great play by Hartsy.”
3. A much improved second. We won’t review their second period against Arizona on Thursday. You all saw it; it wasn’t good. This second period could’ve been rough, too, especially with the Stars scoring just eight seconds into it. But instead of getting sloppy and heading to the penalty box, the Blackhawks responded with shots and goals, taking a 2-1 lead into the third.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
4. Good work from Tanner Kero. The young center plays a blue-collar game and he had another good outing on Saturday night. Kero set up Hartman’s goal in the second period and won five of his seven faceoffs. Kero and Hartman have had good chemistry, which developed during their time in Rockford, and Hartman said it’s continued here. “Kers made a great play on that goal and was real strong on his stick, threw it over to me. He knew I was there and made a great play.”
5. Congratulations to Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks goaltender stopped 31 of 34 shots for his 20th victory of the season, but it’s where he is on the team’s all-time list that’s noteworthy. Crawford now has 202 career victories, good for third among the franchise’s all-time winningest goaltenders. Crawford said last week at the All-Star festivities that he’s grateful for the opportunity to play in Chicago. He keeps building on that. “I just want to keep going and keep moving up,” he said. “Yeah, that’s pretty special.”