Injuries, breakdowns and bad breaks have the once-surging Chicago Blackhawks
in a tailspin.
Stu Barnes scored shorthanded with 6:04 remaining in the third period to snap a 1-1 tie, as the Dallas Stars earned a 3-1 victory over the Hawks at the United Center on Wednesday night. The loss was Chicago’s seventh straight, as the Blackhawks — playing without seven regulars — found yet another way to drop a game.
Dallas has won two in a row after a four-game slide. Wednesday night was the first of a five-game road trip that continues on Thursday evening at St. Louis. The Stars do not play at home again until Jan. 19 against Columbus.
“It was a good way to get this trip started,” said Dallas forward Mike Modano, who assisted on all three goals. “We have a lot of work, a long time on the road. It’s always nice to get the first one. Hopefully, it overflows into (Thursday) in St. Louis.”
Robert Lang gave the Blackhawks the early lead when he scored on the power play 6:09 into the game. After Modano was called for hooking, Lang was able to redirect a low blast from Duncan Keith past Marty Turco to make it 1-0 ( 700K ).
Loui Eriksson tied the game with a power-play goal of his own with 1:33 to play in the opening period. The Stars, who were 0-for-24 with the man advantage over the previous six games, ended the drought when Eriksson took a pass from Niklas Hagman, drove to the net and beat Nikolai Khabibulin in close from a bad angle to make it 1-1 ( 700K ).
“This was a hard working road game and I liked the way we responded,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “We wanted to play hard and make it tough on them, after they got in late last night.”
Neither team found the back of the net in the second period, although Chicago rookie Patrick Kane had a golden opportunity with 8:13 remaining when he was awarded a penalty shot. Kane had a breakaway attempt taken away when he was hooked from behind by Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov. Kane deked Turco to the ice but fired a backhand shot wide.
"It's tough … we're working hard, but the losses keep mounting," Kane said. "We're not thinking about the streak when we're out on the ice, but off the ice you can tell it has to end. Even the fans are restless."
Turco kept Dallas in the game with key stops on both Kane and Adam Burish in the opening 10 minutes of the third period. Barnes then gave the Stars the lead at 13:56, when his shot from the right point went off Khabibulin’s right pad and into the net for a shorthanded goal ( 700K ).
''I got a bounce and it went in,'' Barnes said. ''But we had some good chances. It wasn't a pretty shot, but it was a good end.''
Captain Brenden Morrow sealed the victory with an empty-net goal at 19:42 ( 700K ).
''We had a couple of soft ones on Khabibulin,'' Modano said. ''Those might be the easiest three assists I've ever scored in my life, but you work for your chances and opportunities and it might be the odd bounce that goes your way.
Turco was sharp, though he had to make only 17 saves as the Stars got back to the tight-checking style that has them battling for the Pacific Division lead.
“We are starting to get back to playing the way we’re capable of, which is good to see,” Turco said. “We know that to win, we need to show hard work and dedication and we need to play as a team. Chicago is an energetic young team who is tough to play against, and it’s nice to grab the two points to start this long trip.”
Capitals 2, Avalanche 1 | Video
Olaf Kolzig came within 3:31 of his 36th career shutout and Washington pulled within four points of a playoff spot with a win over Colorado at the Verizon Center.
The Capitals — who have won four of their last five games — are now just two games below the .500 mark at 18-20-5. Donald Brashear and David Steckel scored in the third period for Washington, which used an all-hands-on-deck approach rather than relying on superstar Alex Ovechkin.
“He does it most nights for us, but to be able to win consistently, we have to get scoring from other lines,” Caps forward Brooks Laich said. “It’s nice to see guys like Quintin Laing, Dave Steckel, Boyd Gordon … guys like that get rewarded.”
“Rewarded” is a word not familiar among Avalanche players as of late. Without the likes of Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth — both of whom are out for an extended length of time due to injuries — Joel Quenneville’s squad is having a tough time generating offense. The Avs had just 19 shots against Kolzig and generated few scoring chances.
“We’re not getting much production,” Quenneville said. “We’ve tried a few things with the lines, moving them around and trying to generate something. That’s a challenge right now. We’ve lost a lot of tight games lately, and we’re looking for the timely goal.”
The Avs couldn’t find it on Tuesday night either, when they lost 1-0 to the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
“We knew what they were going to do … we watched their game (Tuesday) night against Detroit,” Laich said. “They just kept it close, they clogged up the neutral zone. We talked about just going harder for longer. We knew if we kept going, we were going to get chances. We hit a couple of posts, but we knew eventually the puck was going to go in. We just stuck with it and come out with a win.”
After two scoreless periods, Brashear gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead when he redirected Laich’s shot past Theodore at 2:51 of the third ( 700K ). Matt Bradley had control of the puck behind the net and sent it to the left circle for Laich, who ripped a slap shot that went off Brashear before going past Theodore. It was Brashear’s third goal of the season.
Steckel put Washington up by a pair when he notched a fluke tally with 3:59 remaining. Steckel raced down the right side and backhanded a pass in front that wound up deflecting off the skate of a Colorado defenseman and going past Theodore to make it 2-0 ( 700K ). “Just a bad break, I think," Theodore said. "It just seems right now (that) those are the differences. It's not something we can really work on."
Marek Svatos ended Kolzig’s shutout bid just 38 seconds later, as he beat the Caps’ netminder on a breakaway ( 700K ). Colorado was on the verge of being shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since November 2001. The Avs have scored only five times in their last four games, as they continue to struggle without Sakic and Smyth.
“Olie played great,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I thought he was sharp. We knew he was going to be sharp. (Tuesday) might have been his best practice since I’ve been here. He was sharp as a tack.”
Boudreau had sympathy for the injury-plagued Avalanche afterward, and applauded Quenneville for the strategy he’s used since losing Sakic and Smyth.
“Joel has them playing so disciplined,” Boudreau said. “They don’t have Smyth or Sakic, (so) they can’t be anywhere near as offensive as they’d like to be. They have to play that way. I thought Theodore played great. They wait for their chances.”
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.