The Chicago Blackhawks marched into Dallas and put on an impressive display of defense by limiting the Dallas Stars to just three shots in the first period. They thoroughly embarrassed a Stars team in front of a sellout crowd, a team that was feeling good about itself after having lost a nail biter to the Anaheim Ducks in a shootout just two nights earlier -- a game that Dallas should have won.
Chicago’s team defense was as tight and cohesive as it has been all year. When the Blackhawks’s didn’t have the puck –- and that wasn’t very often –- they put pressure on the rushing Stars from behind and their defensemen did a fantastic job of closing gaps and standing up at the blue line. Any loose puck belonged to the hungrier Hawks.
After stifling Dallas with their defense, the Blackhawks lit them up with their offense. The team was fueled by the usual suspects -– Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane Marian and Hossa -– but when you have Bryan Bickell (three assists), Viktor Stalberg (three assists), Nick Leddy (one goal, two assists) and Brandon Saad (two assists) hitting you with that kind of secondary scoring, you know it’s going to be a long night when you’re on the other side of the puck.
It was like varsity playing the freshman team. Chicago looked like they had the puck on a string for a good portion of the night. Two quick goals by Toews in the first 10 minutes led to a shot of confidence that the team feasted on for the rest of the night.
The Blackhawks will enjoy this one while they can. Soon they’ll be refocusing in Denver where they have a score to settle. It was here against the Avalanche that they suffered their first loss in regulation, an NHL record start that took 25 games to end. They remember that thumping.