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Stars aim for home-and-home sweep of Blackhawks

by Sergei J. Feldman
STARS (1-0-0) at BLACKHAWKS (0-1-0)


Season series:
It's the second meeting in as many nights between the teams. Round one went to the Stars, who 2-1 in Dallas. Jamie Benn and Alex Goligoski scored in the second period for the Stars; Nick Leddy connected for the Blackhawks late in the third period.

Big story: For the Stars, 2011-12 is all about getting back to the playoffs after missing out last season by losing the final game of the NHL schedule. The Hawks, who got an unexpected trip to the postseason when the Stars stumbled, have bigger goals -- they want another trip to the Stanley Cup Final after winning it all in 2010. The Stars jumped out to exactly the kind of start to the season that they had hoped to in their home opener.

Team Scope:

Stars: Among the many changes made by GM Joe Nieuwendyk was one behind the bench. Nieuwendyk brought Glen Gulutzan to Dallas from the Stars' AHL team in Texas.

The opening-night win was a relief to the 40-year-old, who became the first coach in franchise history since Glen Sonmor in 1979 to win his first game with the team.

"It's a relief," said Gulutzan, who had never coached in the NHL before Friday. "Now I know I can win one. I thought the guys played really good. Chicago's a hard team to play against in your home opener because they're so pacey, they're well coached and they've got good skill."

Blackhawks: Among the big questions in Chicago is whether goalie Corey Crawford can have as strong a sophomore season as he did his rookie season. Despite losing on Friday, Crawford looked sharp with 31 saves on 33 shots. The issue, albeit early on, is scoring. The Hawks threw 38 shots on net, but only mustered one goal, which came at even-strength. The power play failed to convert on four opportunities, as well.

"It was one of those nights where you get behind 2-0 and we couldn't get that first one until it was too late," coach Joel Quenneville said.

Who's hot:
For both clubs, look no further than the netminders. Crawford and Lehtonen both put their teams in the position to win, with each making 30-plus saves.

Injury report: Dave Bolland (upper body), Ben Smith (concussion) and Viktor Stalberg (leg) are out for the Blackhawks, while Nicklas Grossman (groin), Adam Pardy (ribs), Adam Burish (groin) are off the roster for the Stars. All injuries are day-to-day.

Stat pack: Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray registered his first point since 2009-10, after spending last season with the Hershey Bears of the AHL. … Quenneville fell to 1-7-5 on opening night.

Puck drop: "It's not the way we wanted to start the season, obviously," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said of the opening night loss. "I think we made too many mistakes and gave up too many chances. We've got to play with a little more energy."

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