Things are going pretty well for the Chicago Blackhawks of late, as they are playing much better hockey under Derek King than they had been playing earlier in the season. They dropped a tough game at home on Friday night, losing 3–2 to the Nashville Predators in overtime, and were looking to get back into the win column and get some momentum going against the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Some small lineup changes were in order, with Brett Connolly switching in, along with Kevin Lankinen stepping in between the pipes.
After a few minutes of back and forth, Connolly delivered a huge hit on the Stars’ Tanner Kero, sending him to the ice and knocking him out. He lay on the ice for a few minutes as he was attended to by medical staff, with players all on one knee looking on to make sure he was okay. Connolly was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct.
After a bit more back and forth, the Stars broke into the offensive zone, with Joel Pavelski sending the puck off of Seth Jones’ skate and past Lankinen on an unfortunate bounce to put the Stars up 1–0.
With the Stars getting every second of the five-minute power play, they kept pouring it on and getting more and more, getting a few good chances on net, but nothing else got past the goaltender until Pavelski again tipping the puck into the back of the net to make it 2–0.
Only about a minute after that power play ended, the Blackhawks went back onto the penalty kill with Dominik Kubalik getting called for a hook. To make matters worse, just nine seconds into that power play, Jake McCabe put the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty, giving the Stars a two-man advantage. Luckily, the Blackhawks were able to kill off both of those penalties, giving them full strength again to try to make something happen to claw back into the game. The closest chance the Blackhawks got was a rush into the zone with a quick one-timer from Dylan Strome being saved by Jake Oettinger in tight.
The first four minutes of the period were relatively uneventful until Thomas Harley put the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty, giving the Blackhawks their first power play of the game. Erik Gustafsson broke into the zone, passing the puck to Patrick Kane, who got it over to Alex DeBrincat, who put the puck past Oettinger, making it 2–1 Stars.
Just after the ensuing face-off, just 14 seconds later, Jason Robertson won a board battle and backhanded the puck over the shoulder of Lankinen, making it 3–1 Stars, and restoring a two-goal cushion for Dallas.
A few minutes later, the Blackhawks got one back. Jani Hakanpaa’s stick broke, and he could not get in the way of Strome when Brandon Hagel took the puck into the offensive zone, getting it across to Strome, who putting it past a sprawling Oettinger to make it 3–2 Stars.
Again, the Blackhawks found themselves on the penalty kill when Gustafsson got called for interference on a silly penalty to take (but what else is new for our favorite Blackhawk?). The game was almost 4–2 Stars, but Ryan Suter got caught trying to throw the puck into the net, so the goal was disallowed, and would keep the score at 3–2 instead.
The Blackhawks got back onto the man advantage on a hook from Miro Heiskanen. They were not able to convert on that man advantage, and the period would end in a score of 3–2 Stars.
This period started off with pure action, with both teams getting plenty of chances on each other’s nets, but neither team being able to put the puck past the opposing goaltender.
The Blackhawks were briefly on the power play once again before Jones took down Esa Lindell to make the numbers evened up again at four per side.
Lankinen stood on his head in the third, doing everything in his power to keep the puck out of the net and give the Blackhawks a chance to climb back in to tie the game.
Roope Hintz had a terrible turnover after the Blackhawks gave the puck up themselves, giving the puck to Hagel, who threw the puck on net, with a deflection by Kubalik and past a surprised Oettinger to tie the game at 3–3. The Blackhawks poured it on, getting far more chances in the waning minutes of the third than they got the entire rest of the game. The Blackhawks got the goal they were searching for, bringing it to the end of the third with the score being tied.
Things got off to a rip-roaring start, with the Blackhawks getting some great chances, as Kane got a breakaway chance off of a 2-on-0 rush up the ice with DeBrincat, but was not able to do anything with it.
Kane then took a hooking penalty, as he was very gassed going back and forth up and down the ice. The Stars would score on that ensuing power play, when Lankinen bit too hard on some back and forth passes by the Stars, with John Klingberg putting the puck past a diving Lankinen to win the game for the Stars, and making it a 4–3 final in favor of the Stars.
The Blackhawks were essentially playing from behind all game long, as they were down very quickly after the five minute power play for the Stars on Connolly’s major penalty. They did well to fight back, but ultimately could not play effective or tough enough defense, allowing themselves to be bodied out of possession too many times, which allowed for more chances on net. They asked Lankinen to do a lot, and he proved up to the task, but it was not a night where he was enough to single-handedly stop some of these goals from the Stars without being bailed out more by the defense.
The Blackhawks are back in action on Thursday against the same Dallas Stars at 7:30 p.m. CST. Their Tuesday night game against the Florida Panthers game has been postponed to a later date. Coverage for the Dallas rematch will be on NBC Sports Chicago.