Well, it was fun while it lasted. The Chicago Blackhawks‘ winning streak lasted six games, but ended tonight uncharacteristically on home ice against the Dallas Stars. Despite peppering Finnish goalie Kari Lehtonen once again, the consistent Lehtonen stood tough, with his 47 saves leading the Stars to two points against one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
Rather than a momentum starter or killer for either team, this game was in some ways a statistical anomaly that happens during an 82-game season. The Blackhawks led not only in shots but faceoffs (despite Brandon Pirri’s 3-for-14 night at the dot), but takeaways and penalties in an increasingly chippy game. To coincide with the physicality, the Blackhawks managed to register 24 hits (for a rather even -7 differential) while having the puck on their sticks for a large amount of time.
Statistics paint a picture that this sort of box score was likely going to happen regardless of who the victor ended up being. Chicago ranks second in the NHL in shot differential at 6.6, while Dallas allows a rather high 31.9 shots per game, good for eighth worst in the league. Dallas actually wins 54.5 percent of games in which they are outshot compared to winning 46.2 percent of games when outshooting their opponent.
So, where do the Blackhawks go from here? Thursday night they will face off against the Minnesota Wild and can hopefully score first. The Wild, unlike Dallas, are one of the better defensive teams in the league allowing 2.17 goals per game. They also have an even more drastic disparity with regards to shot differential.
Despite averaging 3.5 shots per game more than their opponent, Minnesota only wins 38.9 percent of games in which they outshoot their opponents. However, they win 80 percent of games in which they are outshot. The season series is split so far, with Minnesota winning when the Blackhawks outshot them 36-25 at The United Center, and the Blackhawks getting a 5-1 road win in Minnesota despite being outshot 30-28.
Chicago will continue to shoot the puck at an impressive rate, whether it finds its way into the back of the net or not. The Blackhawks will not be changing much, and should continue to be the aggressors in every game they play. Chicago and Minnesota are both in the top 10 in winning percentage when scoring first, but there is a caveat. When the Blackhawks enter the locker room at the end of the first period with a lead, they have not lost this season.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486.