Strong first period helps Stars flip the result against the Blackhawks
CHICAGO – There is a reason the NHL brought another one of their marquee events to the Windy City on Thursday.
Frankly, the Blackhawks are very welcoming hosts.
They put on a good show for the 2009 Winter Classic as well as the 2012 Stadium Series game at Soldier Field. That’s why the league announced Chicago as the host of the 2017 NHL Draft, Gary Bettman said so during a news conference earlier in the day at the United Center.
Later that night, as any good host would, they welcomed back two of their former players that used to call Chicago home in style. Both Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Oduya got videos and a standing ovation from the crowd for their contributions to a trio of Stanley Cups as they returned as Dallas Stars for the first time to the United Center.
On the ice, however, they Blackhawks were too much of a giving host on Thursday. In fact, way too much, and it cost them some ground in the Central Division.
Dallas felt right at home in the first period as they jumped on their slightly lethargic hosts for a quartet of goals that proved the difference in a 4-2 visitors triumph at the United Center. It’s a complete reversal of the team’s meeting five days ago when the Blackhawks dominated Dallas on their home ice in a 5-1 decision that gave the team a three-game winning streak.
Now the Blackhawks have lost two straight games on their home ice and their once five point advantage on the Stars in the division race is down to one.
“I think we could expect that they’re going to come out hard, given the fact that they had a rough game, maybe didn’t play their best against us last time we were in their building a week ago,” said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. “I guess just we weren’t prepared to respond to that.”
It’s quite an understatement for the captain whose team was blitzed in the first period by a strong Dallas attack. Patrick Eaves got a goal 3:19 into the game and then John Klingberg added another 6 1/2 minutes later to make it 2-0.
But Eaves wasn’t finished for the period, adding a pair of scores to complete a hat trick in just 20 minutes and build what would turn out to be an insurmountable four-goal lead.
“Certainly, it was a terrible, brutal, brutal first period,” said Quenneville, whose own team gave him something to be angry about after a disallowed goal caught his ire two nights before in a loss to the Sharks.
Scott Darling replaced Corey Crawford who allowed the four goals and didn’t allow another score the rest of the way. Signs of life came from the offense in the third period as Duncan Keith scored just 32 seconds in and Patrick Kane added a second goal with just over 12 minutes to play but that’s as close to a rally as the Blackhawks would get.
“You get down 4-0, it’s, I think we were just kind of in a funk there and it took us a while to really push ourselves to get out of it,” said Toews. “We started playing with a little confidence in the third once we got on the score sheet, but, as you saw, it’s too little, too late when it comes down to that.”
A little too much generosity early was just too much for the hosts.