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Blackhawks score four in third period to top Stars

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Brad Richards had a raspy voice Sunday following the Chicago Blackhawks' 6-2 victory against the Dallas Stars at United Center.

The 34-year old center said his screams for passes were the culprit, as he had tried to cap his 1,000th NHL game in style. He never did get the goal he craved, but Richards still had a memorable evening. The 598th and 599th assists of his career set up goals by Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg in a four-goal third period for the Blackhawks (10-7-1), who blew open a game that was tied 2-2 after 40 minutes.

"It was a great game to be involved in, obviously with what happened personally but also with how the team responded to a little adversity early," said Richards, who centered Vesteeg and Kane on the second line for the first time. "We responded good, stayed patient and took control of the game."

After giving up their early 1-0 lead on back-to-back Stars goals in the first, the Blackhawks scored five unanswered goals to win. Chicago dominated the third, outshooting Dallas 23-5 in that period and 47-24 for the game.

Richards finished with the two assists, Kane and Versteeg each had a goal and two assists, and the Blackhawks had three more players with multipoint games. Versteeg and right wing Marian Hossa each had seven shots on goal.

"I think it was two solid periods adding up and us finally hitting kind of a tipping point, in this game anyway," said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, whose third-period goal made it 4-2. "We knew if we just stayed patient and kept working, we could wear them down a little bit. We saw that and we got our bounces in the third."

Forward Brandon Saad scored Chicago's fourth goal of the third period.

Defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook scored the Blackhawks' first two goals in the first period.

Corey Crawford saved 22 of 24 shots for the win in his eighth straight start, helping the Blackhawks get back on track after a 4-1 loss Friday at the Detroit Red Wings.

It was the final home game for Chicago prior to a six-game road trip to Western Canada, California and Colorado.

It wasn't all good news Sunday for the Blackhawks. Rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk left early in the first period and didn't return after taking a shot by Stars defenseman Trevor Daley off his left leg. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said van Riemsdyk could be out for a while.

Dallas, which is 2-6-2 in its past 10 games and 0-5-2 against Central Division teams, heads back to American Airlines Center for a five-game homestand. The Stars, who dropped both ends of a weekend back-to-back against Central Division opponents, are 1-4-4 in their first nine home games.

"This will be the biggest point of the season come Tuesday [against the Carolina Hurricanes]," Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. "We have to make a stand."

The Stars stood tall for two periods against the Blackhawks.

After Keith's goal 1:18 into the game gave Chicago a 1-0 lead, Dallas countered with two quick goals of its own. Rookie forward Curtis McKenzie earned his first NHL point when he scored to tie it 1-1 at 4:49 of the first. Stars forward Shawn Horcoff made it 2-1 with his third goal 39 seconds later.

Seabrook tied it 2-2 on a power play at 11:58 of the first period, which featured 26 combined shots and multiple scoring chances for each team. The scoreless second had a much slower pace, but the Blackhawks put the pedal down again in the third.

Kane's goal resumed the scoring and was followed by goals by Toews, Versteeg and Saad.

"Obviously, it's not the outcome we want," said Stars center Vernon Fiddler, who assisted on Horcoff's goal. "We're just finding ways to give these games away. You look at a team like Chicago, they find a way to find some life. They create some momentum in our end ... get us running around a little bit, and it ends up in the back of our net. That's a good hockey team over there, but that's the thing we have to find a way to do."

Before the game, Richards was honored for his 1,000th game with a ceremony on the ice that included his parents, wife and infant son. He was given a commemorative portrait representing all four teams he's played for in his career, and Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman presented him with a silver stick.

He also got a video montage that featured highlights from all four stops in his NHL career.

"It was very special," said Richards, who signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks in July. "I can't say enough about the [Blackhawks] organization. It's obviously not the same as if you're with a team for a long time, but this is just a first-class organization, like I thought it was when I came here."

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