The Blackhawks look to extend their second point streak of the season as they matchup for a Sunday matinee against the Dallas Stars.
The start of the Stars season was delayed due by a COVID outbreak during training camp, then they won their first four games but have cooled off some recently with just one win in their last four games (1-2-1), including 4-3 loss to the Blue Jackets on Thursday. Dallas remains a top three team in division based on points percentage and will be looking to get back on track against the young Blackhawks.
With Tyler Seguin still out after having hip surgery last November, Joe Pavelski has stepped in as the top-line center and been the breakout forward with 15 points (7 G, 8 A) in 8 games. Jamie Benn is also setting the pace for his team with six points (3 G, 3 A) in four games after missing four games because of a lower-body injury suffered in the season opener. Additionally, John Klingberg (2 G, 8 A) and Miro Heiskanen (6A) have been the driving force from the back-end. The Blackhawks will also want to stay out of the penalty box as much as possible, since 14 of the Stars’ 32 goals have come on the power play.
However, the Stars could be without star right winger Alexander Radulov, who did not practice Saturday and is “day-to-day” with a lower-body injury. Radulov is second on the team with 11 points (3G, 8 A) in 8 games. Ty Dellandrea — arguably the Stars top prospect coming into the season — was skating with the top line during practice on Saturday, so he could be called to fill-in for Radulov against the Blackhawks. He has two points (1 G, 1 A) in six games.
Defense continues to be a strength for the Stars, as they are one of the best teams in the league in terms of suppressing shot quantity and quality. They are ranked second in shots against per 60 minutes (24.12), third in scoring chances against per 60 (20.61), and fourth in expected goals against per 60 (1.8).
Jake Oettinger will start for the Stars as Anton Khudobin is being healthy scratched for disciplinary reasons stemming from an undisclosed issue. Oettinger is 2-0-0 with a save percentage of .898 and 2.42 goals-against average in three games this season.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are proving to be the Little Engine That Could, scraping out points in their last three games including Thursday’s regulation win over the Hurricanes. It wasn’t pretty: Chicago allowed a season-high 15 high-danger chances in each game against Carolina and had to rely on the I-still-can’t-believe-it’s-not-clowns power play for three of their six goals, but it’s promising that a group as young as this Blackhawks team can hold their own against a top-tier team like the Hurricanes.
Patrick Kane is still leading the way offensively: he’s on a four-game point streak with eight points (3 G, 5 A) in the last four games. Duncan Keith and Connor Murphy are holding down the fort defensively, but it’s been primarily through the inspired play of the young guns that the Blackhawks have been successful as of late. During the Blackhawks’ three-game point streak: Alex Debrincat has five points (2 G, 3 A), Dominik Kubalik has five points (1 G, 4 A), Philipp Kurashev has four points (2 G, 2A), Suter has two points (2 A), Nicolas Beaudin got his first NHL point, Brandon Hagel has been a possession-driving burst of energy, and Lankinen is 2-1-1 with a .926 save percentage.
The Stars will be another big test for this young Blackhawks team, and hopefully we’ll continue to see the resiliency that has been a hallmark of this season so far.
Tale of the tape (statistics from this season)
Blackhawks — Statistic — Dallas Stars
47.70% (23rd) — Corsi For — 49.57% (17th)
46.66% (23th) — Expected goals for — 52.78 (11th)
2.92 (16th) — Goals per game — 4.00 (1st)
3.08 (20th) — Goals against per game — 2.50 (6th)
47.0% (26th) — Faceoffs — 49.2% (21st)
37.8% (3rd) — Power play — 40.0% (2nd)
81.0% (13th) — Penalty kill — 80.0% (17th)
Projected lineups (subject to change)
Janmark — Kurashev — Kane
DeBrincat — Strome — Kubalik
Hagel — Soderberg — Shaw
Highmore — Kampf — Suter
Keith — Mitchell
de Haan — Murphy
Zadorov — Beaudin
Benn — Pavelski — Dellandrea
Dickinson — Hintz — Gurianov
Cogliano — Faksa — Comeau
Kero — Dowling — Robertson
Lindell — Klingberg
Oleksiak — Heiskanen
Hanley — Pysyk
How to watch
When: 2 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas
TV: NBC Sports Chicago, ESPN+, Fox Sports Southwest
Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.TV