Blackhawks begin with a dud in Dallas

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Blackhawks begin with a dud in Dallas

Box score Highlights
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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

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The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 26 of 28 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.