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Already Gone: Stars 6, Blackhawks 4

The Blackhawks now have twice as many losses this season as wins.

Dallas Stars v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks lost their seventh game in a row after the Dallas Stars defeated them 6-4 on Sunday night at the United Center.

The Stars opened the scoring 4:14 into what would be a busy first period. While on the power play, Jamie Benn shoveled in a rebound from Miro Heiskanen. The Blackhawks inability to clear the puck consistently is still a major problem.

The Blackhawks tied it about four minutes later. Philipp Kurashev’s pass attempt to Jonathan Toews was blocked by a sliding Esa Lindell directly into the Dallas net.

The Blackhawks went up 2-1 at 11:24 on another pass deflection off of Lindell into his own net. This time it was Toews’ centering pass that went off the stick of Lindell and deflected into the goal. Weird that the best Blackhawks goalscorer so far was a Stars defensemen, but the Blackhawks will take it.

The Stars re-tied the game at 2-2 just two minutes later on yet another deflected power play goal, this time courtesy of Joe Pavelski, who went to the front of the net and tipped a Tyler Seguin one-timer in behind Kevin Lankinen.

Roope Hintz gave the Stars a 3-2 lead just 1:47 into the second period. Pavelski picked off Kirby Dach’s pass attempt and then touch-passed it back to Hintz in the slot, who one-timed it into the net.

The Blackhawks once again made it a tie game after Boris Katchouk scored his first goal as a Blackhawk. After some decent zone time, Erik Gustafsson teed up Katchouk’s one timer for the goal to make it 3-3 at 9:11 in the middle frame.

But that lead, like many others this game, was short-lived, as the Stars scored their fourth just two minutes later. A Hintz shot went wide of the net then bounced straight to Jason Robertson, who banked the puck in off of Lankinen’s back to make it 4-3 Stars.

Robertson scored his second with 5:32 left in the period to give the Stars a 5-3 lead. The Stars effortlessly entered the offensive zone, made two passes, then Robertson’s wrist shot from far out went through traffic to beat Lankinen.

After four goals per period in the first and second, the third was calmer in comparison with just two goals scored — both in the final five minutes.

First, Tyler Seguin beat Colin Delia — who replaced Lankinen at the start of the third — with a wraparound goal to give the Stars a 6-3 lead with 4:32 remaining in regulation.

Second, Kirby Dach got the Blackhawks back within two with 2:57 remaining. Sam Lafferty entered the zone with a great burst of speed but couldn’t get a shot off so he cycled back around before passing to Dach, who took the same path as Lafferty but was rewarded.

Unfortunately, that was as close to a comeback as the Blackhawks would get, falling 6-4 to the Stars.

Notes

  • This was one of those defense optional games that tends to be fun to watch — at least for the first 40 minutes. The Blackhawks played pretty well in the first period as they owned a 66.67 percent share of the shot attempts and 59.74 percent share of expected goals at 5-on-5 and generated more on their power plays than Dallas as well. It’s too bad the penalty kill was a mess.
  • After the first, though, the Blackhawks got a bit more sloppy. They still played pretty evenly with the Stars — it was a back-and-forth kind of game — and it wasn’t as messy as some of the most recent games for the Blackhawks, but they definitely made enough mistakes that the Stars were able to take advantage of pretty easily.
  • Lankinen not having a good game didn’t help, of course. Lankinen’s been decent recently: he’s only allowed eight goals on 108 shots and had a great .935 save-percentage performance against the Seattle Kraken but got zero goal support from the team in front. The Blackhawks did score tonight, but Lankinen allowed five goals on 20 shots in the first two periods. Now, some of those goals were on deflections that even Vezina-quality goalies would have trouble saving, but others were very stoppable and his rebound control remains an issue.
  • It’s not all on Lankinen, though, as the defensemen made some interesting choices tonight. What was up with that very lackadaisical puck recovery attempt from Jake McCabe on the first Robertson goal? Why were de Haan and Stillman like statues any time the Stars had the puck? Did all but Seth Jones forget how to play on the PK?? Maybe if the goalies and team in front could get on the same page, the Blackhawks could win a game.
  • One thing I didn’t understand is why King didn’t use the Katchouk, R. Johnson, and Sam Entwistle line as a checking line tonight. Sure, they had the fewest offensive zone starts, but they faced the lowest quality of competition on the Stars. Those three did play well, but there’s no point in having them in the lineup if they don’t function in a defensive capability. And there’s honestly no excuse for that deployment when the Blackhawks have last change.
  • Instead, do you know which forwards on the Blackhawks faced the Stars top line the most? Reichel and Kane. Kane is always going to see top quality of competition (QoC) — especially when he’s playing so much — but shoving Reichel so far into the deep end so quickly is not ideal.
  • The Erie Otters line of DeBrincat, Strome, and Raddysh looked decent and led the team in all shot and puck possession categories through the first 40 minutes. The main issue with this trio is that Strome and Raddysh completely defer to DeBrincat when it comes to shooting. DeBrincat did have eight scoring chances, but it’d be better to spread the shooting out a bit more.
  • The reunion of Toews and Kane went pretty underwhelming, unfortunately. Their line with Kurashev had the lowest expected goals share on the team (30.72 percent), and outside of the first period, they just didn’t connect particularly well. Maybe they just need to relearn their chemistry, though — which is a point Kane himself made after the game.
  • Lafferty and Dach were two of the best Blackhawks players this game, in my opinion. It would have been nice if Lafferty could have scored on the rush before Dach’s goal, but he did a lot of little things right this game that don’t show up on the scorecard. And this was one of Dach’s best games of the season on the offensive side of things. It was less so on the defensive side of things, though, considering the turnover on the Hintz goal.
  • Overall, this wasn’t the worst the Blackhawks have played recently but it also wasn’t actually good hockey either. While it’s nice to see the Blackhawks have a bit more fight in them, it still wasn’t a fully cohesive game from them. And that’s why they’re just two games shy of matching the nine-game losing streak that started the season. Yikes, honestly.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Roope Hintz (DAL) — 1 goal, 2 assists
  2. Jason Robertson (DAL) — 2 goals
  3. Joe Pavelski (DAL) — 1 goal, 1 assist

What’s next

The Blackhawks host the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday at the United Center for a 7:30 p.m. start.