With 3:19 to play in overtime, and on a four on three power play advantage, Blackhawks’ winger Patrick Kane made a phenomenal no look behind the back pass into the wheelhouse of Marian Hossa, who buried a one-timer past Dallas' goaltender Kari Lehtonen to give the Hawks a 3-2 victory over the Stars last night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The goal was Hossa’s fifth of the season and the victory was the Blackhawks’ fourth in as many games.
Last night’s game was arguably the toughest challenge the Blackhawks have faced this season. Not only did they find themselves behind 2-0 midway through the second period, but they were facing a red hot Dallas goaltender in Lehtonen, who was not only stopping numerous point blank scoring opportunities by the Blackhawks, but making it look easy.
Dallas got on the scoreboard first with less than one second to play in the first period, when Loui Eriksson found himself on a breakaway. Blackhawks’ goalie Corey Crawford initially got a piece Eriksson’s wrist shot, however, Crawford’s backward momentum carried him and the puck over the goal line.
With the score 1-0, Crawford would quickly redeem himself at 3:33 of the second period, when Dallas’ Ryan Garbutt was awarded a penalty shot and Crawford stopped him cold.
Dallas would go ahead 2-0 at 10:41 of the second period, when they capitalized off a turnover by Blackhawks’ defenseman Michal Rozsival. Rozsival failed to clear the puck out of the defensive zone and Dallas’ Cody Eakin picked up the misfire and chipped it to Ray Whitney. Whitney found himself alone in front of Blackhawks’ net and shelved a backhand shot past a sprawling Crawford. Rozsival, who has looked good in his previous outings with the Hawks, was a minus one on the night.
At 15:57 into the second period, the puck finally started to bounce Chicago’s way. While on the power play, Chicago’s Patrick Sharp’s pass attempt deflected off Dallas’ Trevor Daley’s stick and past an unsuspecting Lehtonen. The goal was Sharp’s second of the season. Patrick Kane and Nick Leddy were credited with assists.
With the score 2-1 at the end of the second period, Blackhawks’ defenseman Duncan Keith made the play of the game, and arguably of the season, when he reached back into the Hawks’ goal crease and stopped a puck that beat Crawford and was sliding on its way towards the back of the net. Thanks to Keith’s heads up play, and cat like reflexes, the Blackhawks were able to head to the locker rooms for the second intermission only trailing by one goal instead of two.
It would take until 14:07 of the third period for the Blackhawks to get an equalizer. With the Blackhawks again on the power play, this time team captain Jonathan Toews made his presence felt when he scored off a wrist shot from the face off dots. The goal was Toews second of the season. Sharp, who had three points on the night, was credited with an assist.
Towes’ goal forced the game into overtime and set the scene for Hossa and Kane’s spectacular game winning goal.
Crawford faced 23 shots and made 21 saves, while his counterpart Lehtonen faced 41 shots and made 38 saves. The performance earned Lehtonen second star of the game honors. The win brought Crawford’s season record to 3-0-0, with a save percentage of .923 and GAA of 1.98.
The Blackhawks were 3 of 7 on the power play. An excellent performance in an area where the Blackhawks knew they needed to improve from last year’s campaign. The Blackhawks’ power play currently ranks seventh in the league.
The Blackhawks next game is Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio against divisional foe the Columbus Blue Jackets. The puck will drop at 6:00 CST.