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Penalty-shot goal helps Stars hold off Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- The Dallas Stars made sure they didn't have to go into another shootout against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Four nights after losing an 11-round tiebreaker to the Blackhawks in Dallas, the Stars won 4-3 in regulation at United Center despite blowing a three-goal, second-period lead.

Antoine Roussel scored on a penalty shot 3:01 into the third period to break a 3-3 tie, and the Stars killed off a 5-on-3 situation three minutes later to snap a two-game winless skid caused by back-to-back shootout losses.

"I felt like we played defense the whole game," Roussel said. "We didn't have much energy. Our goaltender played unbelievable and he kept us in the game. We got some lucky goals and some great bounces. The boys played hard, but they obviously dominated us and we'll take the two points."

Valeri Nichushkin, Alex Chiasson and Erik Cole scored for the Stars (13-9-4), and Kari Lehtonen stopped 47 shots, including all 16 he faced in each of the first and third periods.

"They were shooting the puck a lot and that was fun for a little while, but then it gets tiring," Lehtonen said. "It's fun if it goes well. If things don't go well, it can get ugly. I had no problem getting all those shots tonight, when I was feeling good and things seemed to just hit me. That was fun."

Patrick Sharp, Nick Leddy and Johnny Oduya scored in the second period for the Blackhawks (20-5-4), who had a six-game winning streak end with their first loss since Nov. 19 on the road against the Colorado Avalanche.

Chicago failed to win its first home game ice following its annual two-week "Circus Trip," but it wasn't for lack of effort. The Blackhawks outshot the Stars 50-18 and controlled play for most of the game. It just wasn't enough to beat the opportunistic Stars, who handed Corey Crawford (14 saves) his fifth loss.

"It certainly wasn't a dud," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was a dud to start, for me, but we got ourselves into the game and gave ourselves a chance to at least tie it and play a third period where anything could happen."

Chicago trailed 2-0 in the first period despite holding a 16-5 edge in shots. After the Blackhawks failed to score on two power plays, the Stars struck first at 13:47 on a goal by Nichushkin.

Dallas caught Chicago in the middle of a line change, and Cody Eakin carried the puck into the offensive zone before dropping a one-handed pass to Nichushkin at the top of the slot. The Russian rookie, who was singled out by Dallas coach Lindy Ruff earlier in the day for not burying enough scoring chances, beat Crawford with a low wrister for his third goal of the season and first since Nov. 17.

Chicago's Brandon Saad had a chance to tie it a little more than a minute later, but Lehtonen made a nice pad save to thwart the chance, which was one of several impressive saves in the period.

Chiasson made it 2-0 at 18:50 by tipping Alex Goligoski's long power-play slapper past Crawford from in front of the crease for his eighth goal.

It didn't take long for the Stars to push their lead to 3-0 in the second. Standing just behind the right post, Nichushkin forced the puck to through traffic to the front of the crease for Cole, who scored his third of the season by lifting it over Crawford's shoulder at 3:07.

"We had some timely scoring tonight that got us the lead," Ruff said. "You have to give them a lot of credit for fighting their way back, but again, I thought [it was] a heck of a penalty shot by [Roussel] and we hung in there and were able to get a couple of points out of it."

The Blackhawks' comeback was next.

Sharp got the first one at 9:39 with a slapper from above the right circle that sailed through traffic and beat Lehtonen over the glove into the upper right corner. It was Sharp's 11th goal of the season, 200th with the Blackhawks, and 50th power-play goal of his career. It extended defenseman Duncan Keith's string of games with an assist to eight.

Leddy and Oduya scored 65 seconds apart to tie it 3-3 heading into the third.

Leddy beat Lehtonen at 16:09 with a one-timer from the right circle that slid between the pads, and Oduya scored at 17:14 on a shot from the left point that skipped off Chiasson's skate and fluttered into the net.

Roussel's penalty shot happened quickly in the third, when Niklas Hjalmarsson was called for hooking him on a breakaway. His forehand-backhand attempt snuck under the crossbar to beat Crawford, who gave up the first penalty-shot goal of his career; he had stopped nine in a row.

Afterward, Roussel gave credit for the move to teammate Vernon Fiddler, who'd used it to beat the Boston Bruins in a shootout Nov. 5 at TD Garden.

"I knew I had to focus a little bit," he said. "I just [had] to visualize it and it was just like in practice. Usually I know what I'm going to do, but I'm still looking in case something opens up. I used the Fiddler move and it was perfect."

It was far from perfect for the Blackhawks, who dominated the game but failed to earn a point after beating the Stars twice in Dallas earlier in the season.

"We know that when we play them, it's just hard work and simplicity," Quenneville said. "They cashed in on their chances tonight and we weren't anywhere near their rate of cashing in."

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