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I Won’t Be Home for Christmas: Stars 4, Blackhawks 3

Two nights, two games against Central Division opponents and two overtime losses.

Chicago Blackhawks v Dallas Stars Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images

Another Central Division foe handed the Chicago Blackhawks another overtime loss on Saturday night, with the Dallas Stars winning 4-3 to snap a five-game losing skid.

The game could not have started much worse for the Blackhawks. Just 3:02 into it, Brett Connolly caught Dallas forward Tanner Kero — a former Hawk — with a scary, high hit. Kero was down on the ice for several minutes and left the game on a stretcher — although he was in better condition at the hospital, according to the Stars.

Connolly received a five-minute major and was ejected from the game while Dallas turned that power play into a pair of Joe Pavelski goals for a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

About five minutes into the second period, Chicago got a power-play goal of its own after a neat passing play ended up on the stick of birthday boy Alex DeBrincat with a wide open net:

Dallas restored its two-goal advantage just 14 seconds later on a Jason Robertson goal.

Eighty-nine seconds after that, Dylan Strome again made it a one-goal game after a perfect breakout pass from Caleb Jones to Brandon Hagel created a chance, and then Hagel found Strome open just in front of the Dallas net. Strome didn’t miss:

The second ended with Dallas up 3-2 and it stayed that way until the 11:55 mark of the third, when a failed clear by Roope Hintz landed on the stick of Hagel, who fired a shot on net that Dominik Kubalik got a piece of to tie the game at three:

Regulation ended in a 3-3 tie to get each team a point. Chicago had a chance to win the game in OT when Patrick Kane had a breakaway, but he lost control of the puck before firing a shot.

Later in that same shift, Kane took a penalty, and John Klingberg ended the game during the ensuing power play after some neat passing by the Stars:

Notes

  • Valiant effort to get a point after having a player ejected just three minutes in while playing on the second game in as many nights with a lengthy flight in between them. Plus, it’s fair to assume that most OT games which include a Kane breakaway are going to end in that moment. Tough night for Kane overall, and that final shift punctuated it.
  • That said, it would’ve been nice if the Hawks could’ve finished off Nashville in regulation on Friday because this game was always going to be a challenge given the circumstances. A pair of three-point games against divisional opponents the Blackhawks are chasing in the standings doesn’t help anything.
  • It’s also nice to see that the Hawks can battle back from unfortunate circumstances in the first period of a game instead of completely folding up the tent. If this game happens in October, it feels like an easy Stars win. Results still need to be better overall, but the perseverance is an improvement.
  • Not a game that will go on Connor Murphy’s career highlight reel. Don’t know if there’s a lack of on-ice chemistry between him and Riley Stillman — Murphy’s primary D partner in this game — but it seemed like Murphy spent the entire game blindly throwing the puck up ice whenever it hit his stick. Several of those plays resulted in turnovers. Hopefully just an off night for Murphy.
  • Speaking of defensive issues, the penalty kill continues to give up way too many goals and is officially a problem.
  • Excellent performance by Kevin Lankinen. This game would not have gone to overtime without several key saves that he made.
  • There’s no defending the Connolly hit but it evokes memories of the Jacob Trouba hit on Jujhar Khaira and I still don’t understand how Trouba received zero punishment at all.
  • Going to try something new this evening. Here’s the GameScore Impact Card from the Hockey Stat Cards Twitter account. It uses the data from Natural Stat Trick (same source as the game charts below) and attempts to assign individual scores for players based on what their in-game contributions. This data has Brandon Hagel, Caleb Jones and Dylan Strome as some of the top players from this game, with MacKenzie Entwistle, Ryan Carpenter and Riley Stillman at the other end.
  • The Blackhawks are scheduled to play the Stars again on Thursday but, given all of the sports news of the last week, there are plenty of reasons to have doubts about whether or not it’ll actually happen given how swiftly things have gone sideways across the entire sports world. I’ve been struggling to find a more coherent and poignant way to express it but the rampant uncertainty triggered by the last few days has been startling. Fingers crossed for the best but, holy shit, it’s been one hell of a week.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Joe Paveski (DAL) — 2 goals, 2 assists
  2. John Klingberg (DAL) — 1 goal, 1 assist
  3. Brandon Hagel (CHI) — 2 assists

What’s next

The Blackhawks head back to Chicago and will host these Stars again on Thursday night at the United Center for a 7:30 p.m. start.