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5 things to know: Stars fall to Chicago, can't lock down top wild card

Dallas' bid for the Jennings Trophy takes a hit with six goals allowed, dropping its final regular-season road game

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Stars lose to Blackhawks, 6-1

DAL Recap: L'Esperance nets PPG in loss to Blackhawks

Joel L'Esperance scored a power-play goal in the 3rd period, but the Stars fell to the Blackhawks, 6-1

  • 04:30 •

The Dallas Stars didn't roll out their best effort Friday night in Chicago, and the final score was an indication: Blackhawks 6, Stars 1.

The loss prevented the Stars from locking up the first wild-card spot in the West, something they'll try to do again in Saturday's regular-season finale against Minnesota. Joel L'Esperance scored the lone goal for the Stars, and Anton Khudobin went the distance in goal, stopping 26 shots.

Here are five things to know from Friday's game.


1. Stars don't play their game, get burned

The Dallas Stars have taken pride in being a defensive team that is hard to play against and can grind out victories. They got sucked into Chicago's high-skilled type of game Friday night at United Center, and it wasn't pretty as the Stars lost 6-1.

"I didn't like the way we played. We were sloppy," said Stars coach Jim Montgomery. "We tried to play a skilled game, which is not our game. We weren't tight defensively in our own end. We weren't able to make enough plays. We did cause a lot of odd-man rushes. I thought our neutral zone offensively was good, but we weren't able to make enough finishing plays. That kind of game that was played is not our style of hockey."

The Stars rested several key players including captain Jamie Benn, forward Mats Zuccarello, defenseman Roman Polak, and Ben Bishop Friday. The Stars had different forward lines and on defense and they never looked in sync. Montgomery discounted that as being a factor.

"Everybody has played a lot of games and everybody knows how we want to play," Montgomery said. "We chose not too."

The Stars, who clinched a playoff spot on Tuesday, close out the regular season Saturday against Minnesota and then begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs next week.

"We were probably looking too far ahead going into tonight," said Stars center Tyler Seguin. "I feel bad for our goalie. [Anton Khudobin] has done a lot for us this year and we would have liked a better showing in front of him. We'll regroup pretty quick here and finish strong at home tomorrow."

Patrick Kane gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead late in the first period, scoring from the right circle at the 16:45 mark.

Chicago blew the game open with three goals in a 6:50 span over the second half of the second period to push the lead to 4-0. Dominik Kahun scored on the rebound of a Brandon Saad shot off the rush at the 11:11 mark. Chris Kunitz put in the rebound of his own shot off the rush at 13:05. And then Chicago scored at the 17:51 mark when an Erik Gustafsson pass hit Stars defenseman Ben Lovejoy's skate and went to a wide-open Dylan Strome who scored from close range to make it a 4-0 game.

Chicago defenseman Slater Koekkoek scored 44 seconds into the third period to extend the lead to 5-0 before the Stars finally got on the board when Seguin set up Joel L'Esperance who scored from the left circle with the Stars on the power play. Kane rounded out the scoring by scoring a breakaway to make it a 6-1 final.

Video: Montgomery on Stars failing to establish game in loss


2. Stars still one point ahead in top wild card

The Stars came into Friday's game needing one point to clinch the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, and now they'll go into Saturday's regular-season finale against Minnesota still needing one point. The Stars have a one-point lead over Colorado, which is in the second wild-card spot and plays at San Jose on Saturday.

The Stars will finish in the first wild-card spot if they pick up at least one point in Saturday's game against the Wild or if the Avalanche lose in any fashion to San Jose. The Stars will finish in the second wild-card spot with a regulation loss to the Wild and an Avalanche win over the Sharks in any fashion.

If the Stars finish in the first wild-card spot they will play the winner of the Central Division -- either Nashville, Winnipeg or St. Louis -- in the first round of the playoffs. If the Stars finish in the second wild-card spot, they will play Calgary in the first round.

Video: DAL@CHI: L'Esperance nets PPG off Seguin's feed

3. Shot at Jennings Trophy takes a hit

Stars coach Jim Montgomery emphasized the Stars giving themselves a chance to win the Jennings Trophy during the final weekend of the regular season. The Stars did themselves no favors in that area by allowing six goals Friday in Chicago.

The Jennings Trophy goes to the goalkeeper(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it. The Stars (Ben Bishop/Anton Khudobin) were in a dead heat with the New York Islanders (Robin Lehner/Thomas Greiss) coming into Friday's game, but now with one game left for both teams, the Islanders have a substantial lead. New York has allowed 196 goals while Dallas has allowed 202.

"It's a source of pride for us to be a good defensive team. To give up six like that isn't a satisfying feeling," said Stars center Jason Spezza. "We worked hard to give ourselves a chance the last week to have that come into play."

Video: Klingberg on defensive struggles in loss to Chicago


4. Bishop expected to start Saturday

Coach Jim Montgomery said he expects Ben Bishop to start in goal Saturday against the Minnesota Wild as the Stars close out the regular season. Bishop has missed the last four games due to an upper-body injury he suffered last Wednesday in Calgary.

"We do [expect Bishop to play Saturday]," Montgomery said after Friday's game. "We'll have a confirmation in the morning, but we are expecting Ben to play tomorrow night.

Video: DAL@CGY: Bishop exits game with injury in 2nd


5. Stars finish with advantage in shots, but not goals

The Stars finished with a 1-3-0 record against Chicago this season. ... The Stars outshot Chicago 35-32 and had a 62-61 advantage in shot attempts. ... High-danger chances were 16-11, Dallas, according to ... Blake Comeau and Tyler Seguin both had seven shot attempts for the Stars. ... Roope Hintz was tops with three high-danger chances. ... The Stars were 1-for-1 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. ... Dallas won 23 of 52 faceoffs (44 percent). ... Jason Spezza won 8 of 13 faceoffs (62 percent). Radek Faksa won 6 of 16 (38 percent). ... Esa Lindell led the Stars with 20:53 of ice time.

Here is the lineup the Stars used to start the game along with scratches and injuries.

Jason Dickinson - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Roope Hintz - Justin Dowling - Tyler Pitlick
Joel L'Esperance - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Ben Lovejoy
Jamie Oleksiak - Taylor Fedun

Anton Khudobin
Landon Bow

Scratched: Jamie Benn, Mats Zuccarello, Andrew Cogliano, Roman Polak, Julius Honka
Injured: Ben Bishop (lower body), Valeri Nichushkin (illness), Martin Hanzal (back), Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), Marc Methot (knee)

Video: Seguin says Stars will rebound to cap back-to-back

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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