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Lehtonen, Roussel Come Up Big as Stars Top Blackhawks

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Stars coach Lindy Ruff said his team needed to do more than just play well against the Chicago Blackhawks, they needed to get a win. It may not have been the way he would have drawn it up, but the Stars got that win Tuesday night. Despite being outshot 50-18 and blowing a 3-0 lead, the Stars defeated the Blackhawks, 4-3, at United Center.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 47 shots and Antoine Roussel scored the game-winning goal, cashing in on a penalty shot early in the third period that snapped a 3-3 tie. It was a bit of a role reversal for the Stars, who have lost some games recently where they’ve had the better of the play.

“By the end of the year you hope those games even out,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We’ve had some games where we dominated and couldn’t put the puck in the back of the net. We had some timely scoring tonight that got us the lead. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit for fighting their way back, but a heck of a penalty shot by Roussel and we hung in there and were able to get a couple of points there.”

The 50 shots the Stars allowed in the game were a season-high. The 18 shots they registered in the game were a season-low.

“We played defense the whole game, and didn’t have much energy,” said Roussel. “Our goaltender played unbelievable and kept us in the game. We got some lucky goals, lucky bounces. The boys played hard. They dominated us, but we’ll take the two points.”

Valeri Nichushkin had one goal and one assist. Alex Chiasson and Erik Cole also scored for the Stars, who extended their points streak to four games (2-0-2) and improved to 13-9-4 on the season. It was the seventh win in the last eight road games for the Stars, who handed the Blackhawks just their second regulation home loss.

“It’s always fun to come here and play,” said Lehtonen. “We seem to be doing well on the road now, so it was fun to come here and leave with two points.”

Chicago had advantage in territorial play and shots in the first period, outshooting the Stars 16-5, but the Stars headed to the first intermission with a 2-0 lead thanks to a strong performance by Lehtonen, some good penalty killing a couple of goals late in the frame.

Chicago went on the game’s first power play 4:18 into the first period, and the Stars had a great shorthanded chance, but Shawn Horcoff’s close range shot missed the net.

The Stars killed off another Chicago power play midway through the period, survived some strong pressure from the Blackhawks a few minutes later and then counter-punched to take a 1-0 lead in the game.

Cody Eakin dropped the puck off to Nichushkin off the rush and the Dallas rookie beat Chicago goalie Corey Crawford with a shot from the slot with 6:13 left in the first.

Less than two minutes late Roussel and Chicago’s Andrew Shaw dropped the gloves in a spirited fight.

The Stars went on a power play with 1:55 left in the first period and cashed in to take a 2-0 lead. Chiasson tipped in an Alex Goligoski shot with 1:10 left in the period.

The Stars made it a 3-0 game early in the second period when Nichushkin centered the puck from behind the Chicago net and Cole put it past Crawford from close range at the 3:07 mark.

"We were very generous on the first three goals against us,” said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. “We had one of those starts where we were trying to get ourselves into the game. Mentally I don't think we were as sharp."

Chicago went on its third power play of the game 9:15 into the second when Roussel was called for elbowing and the Blackhawks quickly cashed into cut the Stars’ lead to 3-1. Patrick Sharp scored off a blast from the point at the 9:39 mark.

The Blackhawks kept up the pressure on the Stars and they made it a 3-2 game with 3:51 left in the second when defenseman Nick Leddy scored off a one-timer the right circle.

Just 1:05 later the Blackhawks tied it on a Johnny Oduya shot from the point that deflected off traffic and past Lehtonen to make it a 3-3 game with 2:46 left in the second.

Chicago had a couple of great chances early in the third and Lehtonen came with a big stop on Brandon Saad at the 1:11 mark of the period.

Roussel then got a penalty shot when he was hooked by Niklas Hjalmarsson as he broke in on net, and Roussel roofed a backhand on his penalty shot to put the Stars ahead 4-3 with 16:59 left in the game.

“He was hovering around me before he shot and I was going to tell him to shoot five-hole. I am glad I didn’t,” said Lehtonen. “He made a nice move and it was a great goal.”

Roussel said he went with the move that Vernon Fiddler used on his penalty shot goal in Boston back in November.

“I usually know what I am going to do, but I am still looking in case something opens up,” Roussel said. “I used the Fiddler move, and that was perfect.”

Chicago went on a 1:14 five-on-three power play a couple minutes later, but couldn’t take advantage. The Stars had a brief power play and a chance to extend the lead, but couldn’t cash in.

“You miss that 5-on-3. That could've been it there,” said Quenneville.

The Blackhawks pulled Crawford with 2:09 remaining for the extra attacker, but couldn’t get the equalizer and the Stars held on for the 4-3 victory.

The two teams meet again next Tuesday in Dallas.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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