Even with all the momentum that could be mustered and an adoring crowd showering them with adulation that had been building for weeks while they were away, the Blackhawks couldn’t keep the good times rolling.
The defending Stanley Cup champions were back on home ice after a 13-day, seven-game road trip but it mattered little as they fell 4-3 to the Stars on Tuesday night at the United Center.
Antoine Roussel scored on a penalty shot in the third period to help the Stars snap the Hawks’ six-game winning streak—all achieved during their annual circus trip.
Dallas raced to a three-goal lead only to have the Hawks catch them late in the second before Roussel’s score made a winner of Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who made 47 saves.
Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and an assist while Alex Chaisson and Erik Cole also scored to make a loser of Hawks netminder Corey Crawford.
Patrick Sharp, Nick Leddy and Johnny Odyua found the back of the net for the Hawks but it wasn’t enough as they fell to 9-2-3 at home and 20-5-4 overall in front of 21,411.
The Hawks controlled the pace during the opening period, but it was the Stars who struck first when Nichushkin skated into the Hawks’ zone and ripped a wrist shot from the high slot past Crawford.
After the Hawks’ Andrew Shaw and Roussel engaged in a spirited fight, the Hawks again had the extra step but stumbled when Niklas Hjalmarsson was sent to the penalty box for tripping Cody Eakin. The Stars cashed in when Chiasson redirected a shot from the point by Alex Goligoski.
The Stars kept coming in the second and Cole made it 3-0 when he flipped in a shot from in front after Nichushkin sent the puck into the slot.
Sharp finally got the Hawks on the scoreboard when the veteran winger scored on the power play after loading up from the top of the right circle and blowing it by Lehtonen’s glove. Duncan Keith earned an assist on the score, the eighth consecutive game the defenseman has recorded at least one helper.
Leddy drew the Hawks to within a goal late in the second when the defenseman took a pass from Sheldon Brookbank and fired a one-timer through the pads of Lehtonen.
The crowd stood in unison a short time later when Oduya’s shot from the point eluded Lehtonen to knot the score at 3-3.
That set up an exciting third period that ended only after Roussel solved Crawford on a penalty shot after Niklas Hjalmarsson hooked the winger on a breakaway.
After the six consecutive wins to conclude the trip, the Hawks’ primary focus was to stick with what worked on the road.
“It’s just a matter of keeping this thing going and not changing our style too much,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “When we get home, teams get excited I think. They want to go out there and score goals. We have to remind ourselves that we’re going to get that offense as long as we keep playing the same way we have.”
The Hawks were without center Michal Handzus, who missed the game with an illness. Sheldon Brookbank moved from defense to wing to fill in for the veteran.
Forward Tyler Seguin missed the game for Dallas with a concussion.