The Dallas Stars put themselves in a good position to win a big game Saturday night, rallying to take a 3-2 lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in the third period. But that lead quickly evaporated, and the result was a 5-3 loss to wrap up their six-game homestand.
"When we have a lead, we've got to lock it down," said Stars captain Jamie Benn. "It was close, but close isn't good enough right now where we are sitting."
Benn and Tyler Seguin scored in the third to erase a 2-1 Chicago lead and put the Stars up by one goal, but 35 seconds after Seguin's goal, Chicago's Patrick Kane got around the Dallas defense and scored from close range to tie the game. Less than six minutes later, Chicago defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk scored the game-winner, putting home the rebound on the rush.
"It's a terrible loss," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "Especially after we took the lead and then gave their best player a free look. And then we had a defenseman trapped on the go-ahead goal for them. It's not good hockey. It's stupid hockey. It's not good hockey at all."
The Stars, who went 2-2-2 on a key six-game homestand, are 21-22-10 on the season and five points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"I think we all know where we are sitting," said Benn. "We have to dig ourselves out of the bottom of the standings here and find a way to get into the playoffs. We know where we are standing and we have to find a way to get up."
The Blackhawks (32-17-5) got goals from five different players and two assists from Artem Anisimov in winning their second straight game and improving to 4-0-0 against Dallas this season.
"I didn't mind our game tonight," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "Thought we did a lot of good things, find a way to come back when we're losing a game. Behind and all of a sudden Kaner makes an extremely amazing play with quickness and beats him with a nice move and we're back in the game. Another nice finish on the winner and we'll take it."
After a scoreless first period, Radek Faksa scored the game's first goal just eight seconds into the second, beating Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford from a sharp angle to put Dallas up 1-0.
The Blackhawks tied the game at 6:20 of the second when Tanner Kero set up Ryan Hartman, who scored from close range. Lehtonen kept it a 1-1 game when he denied Kane on a breakaway at the 8:07 mark, but just 27 seconds later the Blackhawks scored to take a 2-1 lead. Gustav Forsling's shot from the point hit a Dallas stick and deflected past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen.
The Stars tied the game 2-2 just 40 seconds into the third when Cody Eakin set up Benn, who drove the net and picked a corner with a pretty backhand shot. Seguin put the Stars up 3-2 at the 9:24 mark, poking the puck from Forsling behind the Chicago goal then scoring on a wrist shot from the right circle. But 35 seconds later, Kane got around Stars defenseman John Klingberg, drove the net and slipped a backhand past Lehtonen, and the game was tied 3-3.
The Blackhawks took a 4-3 lead with 4:03 remaining when van Riemsdyk scored on a rebound of a shot on the rush by Anisimov.
"The initial shot was flipped to me, and I thought it was under me and then it wasn't," Lehtonen said. "It was really unfortunate at that time of the game, and that's it."
The Stars pulled Lehtonen with just over two minutes left. With the extra attacker on the ice, Benn was about to get a shot at an open side of the net, but Hartman broke up the opportunity.
"Just tried to get a stick on it and push it out to the corner," Hartman said. "I was lucky enough to get a stick on it."
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored into the empty net with less than a second remaining to make it a 5-3 final.
*The Stars are 0-3-1 vs. Chicago this season.
The Stars are 0-18-2 when trailing after two periods this season.
*The Blackhawks outshot the Stars 36-34 and had a 64-57 advantage in shot attempts.
*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with 6 shots on goal and 9 shot attempts.
*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 35 shots.
*Radek Faksa's goal at the 0:08 mark of the second period is the fastest goal to start a second period in franchise history (previous: Brian Bellows, 11 seconds, Jan. 13, 1988 vs. Toronto).
*Stars captain Jamie Benn ran his points streak to 6 games (5 goals, 3 assists).
*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 1-2 on the penalty. The power-play goal against was the empty-net goal by Chicago's Jonathan Toews at the end of the game.
*The Stars won 32 of 58 faceoffs (55 percent). Cody Eakin won 13 of 19 (68 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 24:25 of ice time. Esa Lindell was next with 21:45.
*Stars forward Antoine Roussel and Blackhawks forward Jordin Tootoo picked up fighting majors in the second period.
The Stars play five of their next six games on the road starting with a two-game trip to Ontario, where they will take on Toronto (Tuesday) and Ottawa (Thursday). Their next home game is Saturday vs. Carolina.
Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Patrick Eaves
Devin Shore - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Antoine Roussel - Tyler Seguin - Brett Ritchie
Curtis McKenzie - Adam Cracknell - Lauri Korpikoski
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Jordie Benn
Patrik Nemeth - Stephen Johns
Scratched: Jiri Hudler, Julius Honka
Injured: Jason Spezza (upper body), Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jamie Oleksiak (hand), Ales Hemsky (hip), Mattias Janmark (knee)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.