Lehtonen, Stars hold on for victory over Blackhawks
No 11-round shootout this time. Just a series of big stops for Kari Lehtonen.
Lehtonen had a season-high 47 saves, Antoine Roussel converted a penalty shot in the third period and the Dallas Stars snapped the Chicago Blackhawks’ six-game winning streak with a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night
”It’s fun if it goes well, but if things don’t go well it can get kind of ugly,” Lehtonen said. ”I had no problem getting all those shots today. I was feeling good.”
It sure looked that way.
Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and an assist for the Stars, who had dropped four of five, including consecutive shootout losses at home in their previous two games. Alex Chiasson and Erik Cole also scored.
Patrick Sharp scored his 200th goal with Chicago in the Blackhawks’ first home game since a 5-1 victory over San Jose on Nov. 17. Patrick Kane had two assists, giving him 21 points in his last 15 games.
The defending Stanley Cup champions hit the road while the circus took over the United Center and responded with an impressive 6-1-0 trip, including an epic tiebreaker during a 2-1 win in Dallas on Friday night that matched the record for longest shootout for each franchise.
”It’s nice to be home from that long road trip, but sometimes there’s a letdown, and you can’t let that happen,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. ”We were guilty of that tonight.”
Second-period goals by Nick Leddy and Johnny Oduya helped the Blackhawks erase a 3-0 deficit, but they went 1 for 5 on the power play in their second regulation home loss of the season.
The Stars appeared to be headed for disappointment before Roussel skated in on Corey Crawford and was awarded a penalty shot after Niklas Hjalmarsson hacked away at him with his stick.
Roussel then beat Crawford with a backhander into the upper right corner at 3:01, and Lehtonen stepped up with a series of solid saves to help the Stars hold on for their seventh victory in their last eight road games.
”I felt like we played defense the whole game,” Roussel said. ”We didn’t have much energy. Our goaltender played unbelievable and kept us in the game.”
Dallas was once again without forward Tyler Seguin, who missed his second straight game with concussion-like symptoms. He leads the team with 12 goals.
The Stars jumped on an ill-timed line change by the Blackhawks to grab a 1-0 lead at 13:47 of the first. Nichushkin got a pass from Cody Eakin and sent a low wrister past Crawford for his third goal of the season.
Chiasson then tipped home a long slap shot by Alex Goligoski for a power-play score with 1:10 to go in the period, and Nichushkin found Cole in front of the goal to make it 3-0 early in the second.
”Very generous on the first three goals against us,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ”We had one of those starts where we were trying to get ourselves into the game mentally. I don’t think we were sharp on the plays and the goals against.”
That sure changed in a hurry.
Sharp’s long slap shot got by Lehtonen at 9:39 for his third goal in four games, prompting the Blackhawks to turn up the pressure. Leddy converted a one-timer and Oduya’s slap shot from the boards went off Chiasson’s stick on the way to the net for his third goal.
The goals by the defensemen just 65 seconds apart tied it at 3 with 2:46 left in the period and led to a standing ovation from the crowd.
The Blackhawks continued to generate quality opportunities in the third, but Lehtonen was there each time. He had a solid stop on Brandon Saad before Roussel’s penalty shot, and then made a great save on Sharp to keep the Stars in front midway through the period.
”In the third they were coming hard and we were playing smart,” Lehtonen said. ”There were a couple of breakdowns, but nothing crazy. It wasn’t a pretty win, but we’ll take it.”
NOTES: Crawford had 14 stops. … Stars C Ryan Garbutt was helped from the ice after he took a slap shot to his right leg in the first period, but returned to the game. … Blackhawks D Michal Rozsival played in his 800th NHL game. … Blackhawks C Michal Handzus was scratched due to an illness. … In addition to Seguin, the Stars also scratched D Jamie Oleksiak and C Travis Morin.