Blackhawks Fall to Stars in Shootout

This first game of a home-and-home series against a divisional opponent was as close to a playoff atmosphere as any team can get in the regular season. With Dallas six points ahead of Chicago heading into the game, both teams knew the stakes — and they played like it, going toe-to-toe by trading chances in an evenly matched battle that eventually required a shootout to resolve.

It was almost unfair that either goalie would have to see his fate sealed in such an unceremonious fashion, as both Robin Lehner and Anton Khudobin were spectacular for their respective clubs.

After winning a faceoff in the Hawks’ zone, Dallas would open the scoring with six minutes remaining in the first period. Alexander Radulov was able to chip the puck to defenseman John Klingberg, who wristed a shot from the point and off of teammate Roope Hintz for a 1-0 lead.

Three minutes later, Chicago would once again gain production from their defensemen, as Olli Maatta scored his first goal of the year on a 2-on-1 rush with forward Alex Debrincat. Although Debrincat is currently on an eight-game scoreless drought, he elected to pass the puck to Maatta, who trickled the puck through Khudobin’s five-hole for the 1-1 tie. Maatta’s goal was the eighth by a Blackhawks defenseman in the last six games. The goal also prolonged Patrick Kane’s point streak to 12 games, with Kane earning the secondary assist.

From that point on, it was a true goalie duel between Lehner and Khudobin.

On a 4-on-3 Blackhawk power play late in the second period, Khudobin stymied a one-timer attempt from Patrick Kane with a fantastic glove save.

Dominik Kubalik — who had been a healthy scratch for the Blackhawks last game — would also be victimized by Khudobin early in the third period. On what will be a save of the year candidate, Khudobin was somehow able to outstretch his right pad, stoning a wide-open Kubalik with a full-split leg stance. Khudobin then made second and third saves on David Kampf and Andrew Shaw respectively, keeping the puck from crossing the goal line.

Khudobin would also stop Patrick Kane on a breakaway in an overtime period that required huge saves by both goalies. Khudobin would finish regulation with 38 saves on 39 shots and Robin Lehner would finish with 41 saves on 42 shots. Both teams finished 0-4 on the power play and 4-4 on the penalty kill for the game.

Although Lehner was spectacular in regulation, shootouts continue to be the goaltender’s weakness. Both Joe Pavelski and Tyler Seguin easily scored through Lehner’s five-hole to cement the win for Dallas; while Hawks shooters Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were unable to answer. With the loss, Lehner now holds an 8-22 record in shootouts, with 42 goals against.

Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith marked his 1,100th game played, while Stars forward Corey Perry marked his 1,000th game played.

The Hawks are now seven points behind Dallas, who currently occupies the second playoff spot in the Central Division. Their home-and-home series will end this Tuesday, with Dallas playing on the road against the Vegas Golden Knights the night before. The next game between Chicago and Dallas will also be Dallas’ third game in four nights. It is imperative that the Hawks take advantage of a Dallas team that may be vulnerable, especially considering the Hawks will have a two-day rest before the teams meet again.

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