The Dallas Stars rolled out another strong effort Saturday, but this time they didn't get the results, falling 3-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks at American Airlines Center.
"I thought we played well again," Stars forward Curtis McKenzie said. "That is three games in a row now that we have played well, but they found a way to win it."
The Stars shook off a tough goal by Chicago 11 seconds into the game to take a 2-1 lead after one period, but Chicago scored twice in the second period, including once on the power play, to take a 3-2 lead that held up the rest of the game.
"I thought we played good enough to win, but I guess we have to be a little bit better," said defenseman Johnny Oduya. "There was one kill there and missed a chance at the end with the power play."
The breaks didn't seem to go the Stars' way, and there were some tough calls. They thought the whistle might have blown the play dead on Chicago's first goal. Late in the game, there was a quick whistle as Chicago goalie Corey Crawford tried to cover the puck when the Stars were trying to tie the game on a power play. And there were a couple of penalties on Dallas that Stars coach Lindy Ruff didn't like as well.
"I thought we worked extremely hard," Ruff said. "Frustrated with some of the calls."
The banged-up Dallas forward group took another hit in the game when center Jason Spezza left late in the second period with a lower-body injury and did not return. He won't play Sunday when the Stars and Blackhawks play again in Chicago.
"He's going to miss a little bit of time," Ruff said. "He won't play tomorrow."
The Stars are down to 11 healthy forwards, and they'll need to call up at least one as they begin a five-game road trip with Sunday's game in Chicago.
Brett Ritchie and McKenzie scored goals Saturday, and Antti Niemi stopped 29 of 32 shots for the Stars, who fell to 4-5-2 on the season.
Patrick Kane had one goal and one assist, and Crawford stopped 31 of 33 shots for the Blackhawks (8-3-1) as they ran their winning streak to five games.
"I don't think anyone realizes we're on a little streak like that," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "We're just focusing on trying to improve every single day. Know that every day, whether we win or not, we always look to the things we want to improve on."
Chicago scored eleven seconds into the game when Kane put the puck on net, and Richard Panik scored during a scramble in front of Niemi. There was a question about the timing of when the whistle blew and if the play might have been dead before the goal was scored.
"It seemed like it," Ruff said. "Whether they made a mistake or not, but the whistle had gone."
The Stars tied the game 1-1 at the 7:21 mark of the first when Antoine Roussel stole the puck near the Chicago blue line and set up Ritchie, who scored off a quick shot from the slot.
The Stars took the lead less than three minutes later. Stephen Johns put a shot on net from the right point, and a Gemel Smith rebound attempt hit off McKenzie's skate and went into the net.
"It was a good shot by Johns. We were having a good shift there, just getting pucks around the net," McKenzie said. "I was just going into the net there for any loose pucks and it happen to hit my skate and go in. It was a fortunate bounce, but I think we were in the right spot to start getting those bounces."
The Blackhawks tied the game at 2:59 of the second. Ryan Hartman capped off a strong shift by Chicago, scoring off a blast from the right circle to make it a 2-2 game.
After the Stars couldn't cash in on their first power play of the night, the Blackhawks went on their third chance with the man advantage and capitalized to take a 3-2 lead. Artem Anisimov made a strong play in front of the net to set up Kane, who scored from close range at 7:40 of the second.
There was a lot of pace to the third period. The Stars got a great chance at the end when Marcus Kruger took a double minor for high sticking Jamie Benn, giving the Stars a power play for the final 1:49 of the game. Dallas pulled Niemi for an extra attacker to make it a six-on-four advantage but couldn't get the equalizer. And now it's on to Chicago to meet the Blackhawks again.
*The Stars outshot the Blackhawks 33-32 and had a 74-53 advantage in shot attempts.
*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with 6 shots on goal. Seguin and Jamie Benn were tops with 8 shot attempts each.
*The Stars were credited with 30 hits in the game. Dan Hamhuis was tops with 7.
*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 5-6 on the penalty kill.
*Gemel Smith registered his first NHL point, assisting on Curtis McKenzie's goal in the first period.
*McKenzie's goal was his first of the season.
*Stars defenseman Stephen Johns picked up an assist on the McKenzie goal and extended his points streak to three games (1 goal, 2 assists).
*The Stars won 38 of 76 faceoffs (50 percent).
*Radek Faksa won 11 of 18 faceoffs (61 percent). Tyler Seguin won 9 of 16 (56 percent). Jamie Benn won 12 of 22 (55 percent). Jason Spezza won 4 of 11 (36 percent). Gemel Smith won 2 of 9 (22 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 24:09 of ice time.
*Saturday's attendance was 18,532, a sellout.
The Stars and Blackhawks play again Sunday at United Center in Chicago. The game is at 6 p.m. CST (Fox Sports Southwest Plus/The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM). The game kicks off a five-game road trip for the Stars who also play at Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves
Devin Shore - Jason Spezza - Lauri Korpikoski
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Brett Ritchie
Curtis McKenzie - Gemel Smith - Adam Cracknell
Johnny Oduya - Stephen Johns
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Jordie Benn
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak
Injured: Jiri Hudler (illness), Patrick Sharp (concussion), Cody Eakin (knee), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)
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.