Playoffs are 2 weeks away, and with the Chicago Blackhawks sitting pretty at the top of the league, President’s Trophy all but locked up, you’d think the team would take it easy on their opponents every once in a while.
Unfortunately for their opponents, that’s just not how Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks roll.
Always the overacheiver (I have a feeling he’d be the type of straight-A student that everybody hated in school), Captain Serious has not gone 2 consecutive games without scoring a goal since March.
And although their impressive 24-point streak ended months ago, Chicago has not shown signs of easing up on their dominance.
Tonight, the Blackhawks played like a team desperate to make a playoff push. And they played against a team that is desperate to make a playoff push. But a big win eluded the 9th place Stars, who are tied with Columbus at 45 points and just 3 points shy of overtaking Detroit for the coveted 8th spot.
The opening period was all Chicago. Not surprisingly, it was Toews, Marian Hossa and the rising rookie Brandon Saad who created magic midway through the first. A tic-tac-toe pass from Saad to Hossa to Toews resulted in Toews’ 20th goal of the season, a tip-in that came at 12:54.
3 consecutive penalties and a couple of sloppy plays did not help Dallas’ situation in tying up the scoreboard, and in the second, Viktor Stalberg took the opportunity to show off his speed, barreled through a few Stars and shot one past their tendy Richard Bachman.
However, just minutes after Stalberg’s goal, the Stars were able to capitalize on a 3-on-1 and Jamie Benn cut the deficit in half. Benn’s wrister put a stop to Ray Emery’s shutout bid. Emery, (who, as a backup goalie, has more wins than the entire Florida Panthers team) was running off a season-high 5 shutouts in his last 8 starts. The goal boosted Dallas’ momentum, and despite the shots being 22-11 for Chicago, the game remained 2-1 by the end of the second.
Early in the final frame, the same duo who got Dallas on the board—Jamie Benn and Ray Whitney— closed the gap and tied the game at 2. The tie didn’t last long (just a little over a minute) as Andrew Shaw’s shot, on a feed from Patrick Kane, sent the puck to the back of Bachman’s net.
Having a 1-goal lead certainly didn’t mean the Blackhawks would stop searching for opportunities to drive to the net. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa both picked up their second point of the game with assists on Niklas Hjalmarsson’s slap shot. 2 goals in 3 minutes. It’s like Chicago has something to prove.
The last few minutes of the game were a scramble on both ends. Dallas pulled their goalie with 2:44 left in the period, and despite numerous chances by both team (and despite no one tending goal in the Stars’ end), no pucks were finding their way to the back of the net. Finally, with only 27 seconds left to play, Hossa reluctantly took a shot into Dallas’ cage for the empty net goal.
The 5-3 win extended the Blackhawks’ league lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins to 6 points. And with only 6 games left in the regular season, Chicago has the potential to take the lead and run off with it.
Next up, the Hawks face the Nashville Predators, who are lingering near the bottom of the Western Conference.
About the Author
Written by Anna Santiago
26-year old sports writer from Calgary, Alberta. A hockey and basketball lover above all.