Patrick Kane reached yet another milestone this season, playing in his 1,000th NHL game. Unfortunately, the occasion was anything but celebratory, with the Dallas Stars dominating the Blackhawks for a 6-1 victory.
Joel Kiviranta would get things going for Dallas less than two minutes into the game. With Adam Boqvist making an ill-advised pinch in the neutral zone and Brandon Hagel exiting the ice for a line-change, Roope Hintz developed a two-on-one with Kiviranta, resulting in an easy one-timer goal for the latter.
Jamie Oleksiak would make it 2-0 late in the period, immediately after the Blackhawks had failed on a scoring chance of their own. Mattias Janmark’s pass bounced off Carl Soderberg’s skate, leading to a quick transition up-ice by Dallas. Stars Captain Jamie Benn snapped a wrist shot on goalie Malcolm Subban, who was unable to absorb the puck. The rebound kicked right to Oleksiak, who scored his third goal of the year. With the assist, Benn collected his 700th NHL point, becoming only the fourth player in franchise history to ever do so.
The Jamies are at it again 😏 pic.twitter.com/tvW2CzjDuZ
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 10, 2021
Janmark and Soderberg would atone for their earlier missed opportunity in the second period. After a nice faceoff win by Soderberg, rookie defenseman Lucas Carlsson delivered a nice slap-pass to a wide-open Janmark, who finished the one-timer from a sharp angle, cutting Dallas’ lead in half. Janmark’s goal against his former team was the Hawks’ lone bright spot of not only the period, but the entire game.
With rookie Matthew Highmore serving a tripping penalty, John Klingberg would make it 3-1 in the waning seconds of the Stars’ power play, wristing a shot past a partially-screened Subban. After a promising stretch of solid play, Chicago’s penalty kill has been utterly atrocious recently, plummeting from the 7th best in the league in early February to the 4th worst (28th) in the league as of today.
The Stars continued to pour it on in the middle frame, with Joel Pavelski and Esa Lindell adding to the onslaught. Pavelski capitalized on a breakaway, with Subban stopping the initial shot, only for Pavelski to score on the rebound. Lindell would make it 5-1 less than two minutes later, with Roope Hintz screening Subban.
Hintz would score a goal of his own early in the third period, batting a puck out of mid-air for the 6-1 lead. Stars rookie Jason Robertson would finish the night with 4 points, which were all assists. The win moved Dallas within 10 points of the Blackhawks, who currently occupy the last playoff spot. Dallas also has six games in-hand on Chicago, making the loss all the more critical for the Hawks.
Although the outcome was disappointing, it was obviously a special night for Kane, who was greeted with a tribute by his teammates upon arriving on the ice for the pre-game skate.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 10, 2021
Kane is now the seventh player in franchise history to ever reach the 1,000 game mark. In addition, at 32, Kane is the youngest player to reach both 1,000 games and 400 goals scored; and just the seventh American-born player to ever do so.
“It’s crazy that you get to 1,000 so quickly,” Kane said before the game. “It seems like yesterday I was just starting in the league, or playing for the London Knights. So, it’s amazing to get to this number. I feel very fortunate to play in the league for this long and for this many games.”
After an incredibly strong, 39-save shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, Subban finished this game with a .838 save percentage, allowing 6 goals on 37 shots. Rebound control continued to be a problem for Subban, who did not have much help — if any — from his team up front. Compared to Dallas’ 37 shots, the Blackhawks were only able to muster 22 shots in the entire game.
Rookie defenseman Ian Mitchell and forward Lucas Wallmark were both scratched in favor of Lucas Carlsson and Reese Johnson, respectively. Carlsson averaged 15:11 of ice time, finishing with 1 assist and a -1 rating. In addition to his fight with Dallas’ Nick Caamano, Johnson also finished with a -1 rating in 7:32 of ice time.
Chicago’s slow start doomed them from the jump. The loss marks Chicago’s second straight, following an ugly 6-3 defeat to Tampa on Sunday, in which the Hawks squandered a 3-0 lead. With an extremely difficult schedule and an opening loss on their current six-game road trip, the Blackhawks have no time to spare in finding their game again.
“We didn’t give ourselves a chance with how we started the game,” Coach Jeremy Colliton said. “I thought we had a decent push back the beginning of the second. Then we take a penalty in the offensive zone, they score. We’ve got to find a way to get through that and have another push. I think they got better and we didn’t push back.”