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Sharp, Saad score twice as Blackhawks rout Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Chicago Blackhawks were firing on all cylinders Tuesday night.

The defending Stanley Cup champions got two goals each from Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp and rolled over the Dallas Stars 6-2 at American Airlines Center.

"Great start, across-the-board contributions, so it was a very good night," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists, and Duncan Keith, Michael Kostka and Brent Seabrook each had two points for Chicago. Kostka had the other goal for the Blackhawks.

Rookie Antti Raanta made 27 saves for Chicago to earn his fourth win. He is filling in for starter Corey Crawford, who is expected to miss three weeks with a lower-body injury suffered on Sunday.

"He played great," Kostka said of Raanta. "He's going to get a lot of opportunity here in the next little bit to continue to establish himself. So he's just got to keep doing what he's doing and learning from maybe a few little things here and there as we all do."

Dallas got a pair of goals from Antoine Roussel, one in the second period and another late in the third.

"He's the one bright spot," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of Roussel's performance. "They hate playing against him, and he showed why. He wasn't afraid to get into dirty places, and he got rewarded for being in the right place. I admire the way he plays the game."

Kostka, who was making his first start since returning from a conditioning assignment with Rockford of the American Hockey League, opened the scoring with his second of the season 2:03 into the opening period.

"[He] played good," Quenneville said of Kostka. "[He] had the puck, offensively involved, he got a fortunate break on his goal but a good way to start, good way to get back into the team and the locker room and fit right in."

Stars forward Erik Cole deflected Kostka's shot from the right point. Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen tried to cover the puck at the near post but couldn't, and it slid a few inches over the goal line. After a quick video review, Chicago had a 1-0 lead.

Kane scored on a breakaway at 12:05, flipping a backhander into the right side of the net to give the visitors a 2-0 edge heading into the first intermission.

Saad made it 3-0 at 2:46 of the second period by tapping in a rebound after Lehtonen stopped Kostka's wrister. Saad had initiated the sequence by stealing the puck from Dallas captain Jamie Benn near the Stars' blue line. He fed Jeremy Morin, who slipped the puck to Andrew Shaw inside the right circle.

Sharp scored a power-play goal at 8:20, beating Lehtonen with a slapper from the high slot that the Dallas goalie never saw.

That goal ended the night for Lehtonen, who allowed four goals on 19 shots. Backup Dan Ellis came on in relief and stopped 12 of 14 shots he faced.

"We were hanging our goalie out to dry," Ruff said when asked why he pulled Lehtonen. "When it hit 4, I knew we've got a tough road ahead. I felt Danny could spark us a little and Kari could get some rest."

But the change in goalies didn't help. Sharp scored his second of the night and 14th of the season at 11:08 when he beat Ellis with a backhand on a breakaway.

Sharp had four assists in Chicago's 6-2 win on Nov. 9 in the Blackhawks' last visit to American Airlines Center.

"We've had some success here, but it's still a tough place to play and the Stars are a tough team to play against. They're a young team. They're hard working. They've got speed on all their lines, so it's a difficult challenge every time we play them," Sharp said. "I thought we did a good job of sending a lot of pucks on net, not too many prime chances but the ones we had we made sure we capitalized on them."

Dallas broke through at 13:36 when Roussel scored his sixth goal of the season, slipping a shot around Raanta for his fourth goal in six games.

Saad added his second of the game and 11th of the season, a shorthanded goal, at 19:15. Saad skated around the right side of the Dallas net before sending a wrister from the right circle toward the net, a shot Ellis bobbled before it went in.

Roussel scored his seventh on a tip-in with 19 seconds remaining in the game.

The Stars were 0-for-5 on the power play and are now an NHL-worst 1-for-47 at home with the man advantage.

"It was poor from start to finish," Stars center Shawn Horcoff said. "I don't think there was any one area you could point to."

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