Hossa the hero again as Blackhawks beat Stars

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Hossa the hero again as Blackhawks beat Stars

DALLAS Patrick Kane saw just enough of Marian Hossa out of the corner of his eye. That apparently was all he needed to see. A quick behind-the-back pass to an open Hossa, shot, score, and the Blackhawks kept their great start intact.

Hossa had the power-play game-winner 1:41 into overtime, and Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews also scored power-play goals in the Blackhawks 3-2 victory on Thursday night. The Blackhawks, down 2-0 early, came back to improve to 4-0-0, their best start in 40 years.

Kane, who has been strong to start the season, chose pass over shot.

(Hossa) made a nice pass in the slot and I wanted to fake the defenseman; I was going to try to get a shot myself, Kane said. But he ended up just staying there. I saw (Hossa) out of the corner of my eye and it worked out.

Said Hossa, this was our first really big test, coming from behind, and we didnt quit. It was huge.

Yes it was definitely a test, and Kari Lehtonen was the man making life so difficult for the Blackhawks. The Stars goaltender was tremendous on Thursday, stymieing the Blackhawks and most of their 41 shots. But instead of getting frustrated, the Blackhawks just kept playing. And shooting.

It was almost fun to watch how good he was playing. I know its scary to say, Kane said. He was just making acrobatic save after acrobatic save.

Then the Blackhawks got a break when, on a second-period power play, Sharps pass went off Stars defenseman Trevor Daleys stick and past Lehtonen. Toews tied the game with less than six minutes remaining. Then in overtime, Kanes dazzling pass to Hossa finished the comeback.

We can talk about that one for a long time, coach Joel Quenneville said of Kanes pass. He had eyes behind his head because he saw Hoss. Everybody thought it was on the left side, including me, and he pulls that off. Hoss doesnt waste it; he buries it. Its a special ending.

Hossa, who knows Lehtonen from their Atlanta days, shot where the Blackhawks said they should target the goaltender.

We were talking about going low blocker on him and it seems like everyone went high glove, said Hossa, who beat Lehtonen on the blocker side. But he played unbelievable and we were lucky to get this win.

Corey Crawford stopped 21 of 23 for his third victory of the season, including a penalty shot on Ryan Garbutt.

He actually came in pretty quick, so I didnt have a lot of time, Crawford said. He went for the backhand and just quickly and tried to roof it. So I had to do the splits there and I just got a piece of it.

And Duncan Keith got a piece of another one. The Stars were looking to go up 3-1 as seconds ticked away in the second period and Alex Goligoskis shot trickled through Crawfords pads and toward the end. But Duncan Keith shoved the puck out of the crease in time.

It was just a quick play and happened to be in a spot where I could get it, Keith said. They moved it around well and (the puck) snuck through Crow there, but I was lucky to get my stick on it.

A little luck never hurts, but the Blackhawks deserve credit for continuing with what got them all those shot opportunities throughout the game. It worked, and theyre off to a flying start.

I think we had a lot of good chances out there, even though we were down by two, Keith said. We stuck with it, kept playing. We were opportunistic.

Will lopsided loss shake Blackhawks from their slumber?

Will lopsided loss shake Blackhawks from their slumber?

The Blackhawks have talked the past several games now about how they need to play better, how they need to get back to their 60-minute game. But even when you tell yourself you have to improve the message doesn't always translate into immediate action. That's especially true if, despite so-so play, you're still managing victories or still eking out a point.

Sometimes, you need a jolt to realize you have to get better. Well, that thud the Blackhawks made in South Florida ought to get their attention. 

The Blackhawks' 7-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, that "ugly, ugly game," as coach Joel Quenneville, is the latest in what's been a mediocre stretch for the team. They've been leaning on their goaltending again (please see Minnesota, Montreal, Ottawa and Dallas games). Or they've been leaning on their ability to wake up in the third period after sleepwalking through the first two. Sixty-minute games and four-line rotations, such a big part of the Blackhawks' success through February and early March, have been absent.

Call it the Blackhawks' mid-March malaise.

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It hasn't been more painful because the Blackhawks have still found ways to get points. Or at least they did until Saturday night, when two "yapping" penalties – Quenneville's (accurate) description of Ryan Hartman and Marcus Kruger's unsportsmanlike calls – started the Blackhawks' demise against the Panthers. Players told the traveling media following the game that this was a wake-up call. It ought to be.

Granted, the Blackhawks' late-season issues aren't as bad as some of their fellow Western Conference teams. The Minnesota Wild are 3-10-1 in March. The San Jose Sharks have lost six in a row. This also isn't the first time the Blackhawks have gone through this late-season mediocrity.

Entering the 2015 postseason they struggled to score goals and lost four in a row (five goals in those four games). It turned out alright. Still, best to avoid bad habits.

Perhaps the Blackhawks are in a bit of a swoon because, really, there's not much for which to play in these final few games. They don't care if they win the Presidents' Trophy (and they probably won't). They're currently in first place by seven points following the Wild's 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit on Sunday. Whether the Blackhawks finish first or second, they'll start this postseason at home. 

So is this panic-inducing? No. Is it a concern? Certainly. The Blackhawks can't start thinking they'll automatically flip the switch as soon as the postseason begins.

The Blackhawks want to get their four-line rotation going again. Artem Anisimov returning in the next week or two will certainly help that. They want to get their overall game going again. The Blackhawks have been telling themselves what needs to be done for a few games now. Maybe they needed a wake-up call. On Saturday, they got it. 

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks give up season-high seven goals

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks give up season-high seven goals

Here are some of Saturday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Five Things to Watch: Bulls visit Bucks in final regular season meeting on CSN

Jonathan Marchessault's hat trick leads Panthers rout of Blackhawks

Javier Baez won’t change his style around Cubs after World Baseball Classic: ‘We’re not showing anybody up’

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

Former Bulls center Joakim Noah suspended 20 games for violating NBA's anti-drug policy

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

Joe Maddon breaks down the Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella decision for Cubs

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Illinois OLB Dawuane Smoot