Blackhawks begin with a dud in Dallas

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Blackhawks begin with a dud in Dallas

Box score Highlights
Coach Q: Only a few guys impressed
VIDEO: Toews, Hossa Crawford comment

DALLAS -- Season openers can be a mixed bag. The Chicago Blackhawks had as much of that as anyone on Friday night.

Some great scoring chances bested by better goaltending. A few mistakes that proved costly. And a couple line changes.

Hey, it's Game 1. It's not a bad time to tinker.

Coach Joel Quenneville switched up some lines to start the second period and the Blackhawks generated everything but goals in a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. No matter which of the Blackhawks were firing, no one could really solve Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who was stellar in stopping 37 of 38 shots.

Defenseman Nick Leddy broke through with 13.6 seconds remaining in regulation to deny Lehtonen the shutout. Alex Goligoski and Jamie Benn scored for the Stars.

Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 33 in the loss. He was particularly sharp early, which couldn't be said for the rest of the Blackhawks. The Stars got prime chances, some breakaways, but Crawford turned away 13 in the first period.

"Crow kept us in the game in the first. You could say they could've had a bigger lead on us the first 20 minutes," said Jonathan Toews. "That's not the way we wanted to start the season score-wise, but the way we played there were a lot of mistakes and we gave up too many quality chances."

So the Blackhawks changed up some lines. It wasn't a total surprise; with injuries (Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg and Ben Smith) and a suspension (Daniel Carcillo), the Blackhawks were down a forward and not running four full lines anyway. Michael Frolik was with Toews and Patrick Sharp for a while, and Patrick Kane joined Toews and Sharp toward the end.

The changes generated opportunities, as the Blackhawks outshot the Stars 22-12 in the second period.

"We shook up the lines a little bit and it seemed like we finally found some jump and some things were going," said Marian Hossa, who was double-shifting and finished with a team-high eight shots on goal. "We were creating more chances and spent more time in the offensive zone."

Quenneville said, "we're still trying our lines to begin with so we were just looking for something that sparked us. I think that was a tough first goal (by Goligoski) because Crow had a great first start. It was one of those nights; we got behind 2-0 and couldn't get that first one until it was too late."

The goals, however, didn't come. They didn't even materialize on the power play, on which the Blackhawks went 0 for 4. The Stars did find a way. Goligoski's came off a Blackhawks turnover and Benn got the rebound goal when Crawford couldn't hold on to Sheldon Souray's initial blast.

"I didn't see the first one right off the stick. The second one was a bullet there and I just couldn't hang onto it," Crawford said.

A mixed bag, some good and bad. The Blackhawks tinkered but came up short. They won't have long to wait to try and right the wrongs.

"Some mistakes we need to get better at and we left too many guys wide open and gave them too many quality chances," Toews said. "We'll tighten it up tomorrow, relax and let everyone do their own job. We'll have more energy and speed going into their zone tomorrow night."

Briefly

Quenneville is "optimistic" that Bolland (upper body) will play tomorrow vs. the Stars.

Kane, who Quenneville thought was just fine at center, won six of nine faceoffs.

John Scott was the lone healthy scratch for the Blackhawks.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information

Blackhawks will consider breaking up Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane

Blackhawks will consider breaking up Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane

Saturday morning’s potential lineup looked different for a few reasons. First, there were more familiar faces, thanks to players trickling in after their World Cup of Hockey work.

Second, Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane weren’t on the same line. While part of that is because the Blackhawks are still short a few players, it’s also an experiment that could carry over into the regular-season.

Kane was with Nick Schmaltz and Artem Anisimov and Panarin was with Vinnie Hinostroza and Richard Panik and they’ll see how that works starting Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues. Granted, this is only part of the change. The main gist is to give Jonathan Toews, who hasn’t joined the Blackhawks for camp yet, a good playing partner on that top line. Still, it’s a first look coach Joel Quenneville would like to take.

"It’s definitely a thought process and we’re saying ‘Let’s have a look at it in camp," Quenneville said. "And maybe we can have a different look or something to think about, at least, going into the season with Johnny and Kaner being on different lines and having more balance on both lines."

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The Blackhawks struggled with finding the right combinations, outside of that top line, last season. Panarin did play with Toews for a few games but the combination didn’t click as well as the Panarin-Kane one, and that second line of those two and Anisimov was quickly restored. This season the issues facing the Blackhawks’ forward depth are obvious, so it’s worth another look to see, once Toews gets here, if he and Panarin can get something going.

"[It’s] more so about having balance on both lines and having more depth and scoring throughout the lineup," Quenneville said.

BRIEFLY

- Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Brent Seabrook will also play vs. St. Louis.

- Quenneville said Duncan Keith (knee) is progressing well and, "we’re hoping that he can get a [preseason] game in or so."

- Scott Darling is slated to play the entire game against the Blues.

Blackhawks release G Jake Hildebrand from tryout agreement

Blackhawks release G Jake Hildebrand from tryout agreement

The Blackhawks released goaltender Jake Hildebrand from his tryout agreement, the team announced after a 1-0 preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

The 23-year-old netminder signed a one-year contract with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League in June as an undrafted free agent.

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Hildebrand's best season at Michigan State came during his junior year in 2014-15 when he was named the best goaltender and player in the Big Ten after registering a 2.18 goals against average and .930 save percentage, including six shutouts which was tied for second in the nation.

The Blackhawks' active roster now includes 28 forwards, 16 defensemen and five goaltenders.