The offensive output of the Chicago Blackhawks continues to consistently baffle defenses around the NHL, this time overwhelming the Dallas Stars who were at home and actually held an advantage on the Blackhawks, who looked sloppy out of the gate.
That being said, the leadership of Jonathan Toews was able to quickly snap the Blackhawks out of a rut, while the penalty-kill unit of Marcus Kruger, Brandon Saad, and even Andrew Shaw contributed to a perfect 6-6 penalty kill. Cody Eakin scored mere seconds after a penalty ended.
With the Blackhawks’ struggles over, the top line once again stepped up, with stars leading the team in all statistical categories. Patrick Sharp played a nearly perfect game, and tallied four assists, every goal but the empty netter.
Not to discredit Sharp, but it would be easy to overlook two stunning performances that deserve recognition, beginning with defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who may be having the most efficient offensive season of all NHL defenseman. The Hammer scored the fifth and final goal, his ninth point of the season, while contributing his consistently smothering defense that helped mightily while the Blackhawks were struggling.
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford played a phenomenal game with 31 saves against Kari Lehtonen who made some big saves to keep the Stars in it as long as he could. Crawford is clearly feeling it right now, averaging a .945 save percentage going into tonight’s game, which was only the second time in the last six games Crawford allowed more than one.
Coach Joel Quenneville has been rather quiet about who will start tomorrow, but Crawford made his case tonight. The decision is now an easy one to make, only assisted by the fact that the ‘Hawks do not play until Thursday after tomorrow’s contest, and after tonight are 6-0-1 in back-to-back games.
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