Stars visit Blackhawks with newfound road confidence
CHICAGO — The road hasn’t been very kind to the Dallas Stars this season, but after an impressive performance away from home, coach Ken Hitchcock hopes that trend is about to change.
The Stars will carry a 4-8-1 road record into the United Center on Thursday when they face the Chicago Blackhawks. Dallas snapped a four-game road winless streak Tuesday when the Stars became only the second visiting team to beat the Vegas Golden Knights at home in a 3-0 victory sparked by 34 saves from Ben Bishop.
While the Stars still haven’t performed as well on the road as Hitchcock would like, the Tuesday night victory — fueled by Radek Faksa’s first career hat trick — was certainly a step in the right direction.
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“As a coach, you have a feeling it’s coming, we can see this in the last two road games that we were starting to put good minutes,” Hitchcock told said after the win over Vegas. “I think it’s also the verbal message on the bench from the players themselves. The players are starting to say the right things on the bench that you need to say if you’re going to win on the road, and helping each other through difficult periods and correcting themselves on the bench without us doing the work.
“That’s what we saw two games ago, and that’s starting to take place on a daily basis, which is a big step if you’re going to win in another team’s building.”
Bishop, who notched his 21st career shutout, was a major reason why. He kept the Stars even until Faksa got Dallas rolling offensively. Like the rest of his team, Bishop had struggled on the road before improving his road marks to 3-6-0 with a 3.62 goals-against average and an .887 save percentage.
So as the Stars look to put together another strong performance against the Blackhawks, they will do so with more confidence.
“You want to be better on the road,” Bishop told the Dallas Morning News. “I’ve felt good on the road, but obviously, not getting the results we want to have.”
The Blackhawks (12-9-3) enter play Thursday tied in the standings with Dallas (13-10-1) at 27 points. Chicago is 6-4-1 at home. The Blackhawks will attempt bounce back from a 3-2 road loss to Nashville on Tuesday when they played the second night of a back-to-back set.
Chicago finds itself in a busy stretch. After a day off Wednesday, the Blackhawks will host the Stars on Thursday before traveling to Dallas on Saturday and returning home to host the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.
Before the Tuesday loss, the Blackhawks were 5-1-1 in their past seven games, a hot streak that they hope will resume Thursday against the Stars.
Chicago enters the three-games-in-four-days stretch hoping to move past a difficult loss to a division rival in Nashville.
“We did a lot of good things against (the Predators), maybe just a few lulls in our game,” Blackhawks forward Lance Bouma told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday. “(We) just continue on that same path we’re going, because we’re trending in the right direction.”