Stars spoil Hawks’ long-awaited return
CHICAGO – Even with all that momentum a lengthy winning streak generated, and a United Center crowd showering them with affection that had been building for weeks while they were away, the Blackhawks couldn't keep the good times rolling.
The defending Stanley Cup champions were back on home ice after a 13-day, seven-game trip, but it mattered little as they fell 4-3 to the Stars on Tuesday night in front of 21,411 hockey-starved fans.
Antoine Roussel scored on a penalty shot 3 minutes into the third period to help the Stars snap the Hawks' run of six consecutive victories – all achieved during their annual circus trip.
The Stars raced to a three-goal lead, only to have the Hawks catch them with an offensive spurt in the second before Roussel's score made a winner of Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who was spectacular with 47 saves.
"We carried the play most of the game," Hawks winger Kris Versteeg said. "Kari really stood on his head and kept them it. When you get behind the 8-ball at the start, it's tough coming back, but we showed resilience."
In addition to Roussel's score, Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and an assist, while Alex Chaisson and Erik Cole also scored on Hawks netminder Corey Crawford.
Patrick Sharp, Nick Leddy and Johnny Odyua scored for the Hawks, but in the end it wasn't enough as they fell to 9-2-3 at home and 20-5-4 overall.
"It's nice to be at home from that long road trip, but sometimes there's a letdown and we can't let that happen," Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "We were guilty of that [Tuesday night]. We got our energy back going in the second and we were right there, but for whatever reason, it wasn't our best game."
It wasn't a typical first-game-after-a-long-trip letdown, as the Hawks controlled the pace throughout much of the game, and reached the 50-shot plateau for the second time this season.
"I kept looking up there and there were more and more shots every time," Versteeg said. "And [they were] good scoring looks. We could have maybe gotten to the net a little bit more here and there, but we had looks from everywhere. You have to give [Lehtonen] credit."
Added coach Joel Quenneville: "We were very generous on the first three goals against us. 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."
Roussel also had a spirited scrap with the Hawks' Andrew Shaw before eventually scoring the winner on the penalty shot after Niklas Hjalmarsson hooked him during a breakaway.
"Our goaltender played unbelievable and kept us in the game," said Roussel, who roofed a backhander past Crawford and then taunted the United Center crowd en route to the bench to celebrate. "We got some lucky goals [and] some great bounces. The boys played hard still, but they obviously dominated us and we'll take the two points."