Denis Arkhipov and Martin Lapointe each scored a power-play goal Tuesday night, and Nikolai Khabibulin made 20 saves to lead Chicago to a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. The Blackhawks snapped an 0-for-18 power-play slump that spanned four games and went 2-for-4 with the man advantage. They entered with the third-worst power-play conversion rate in the NHL (11.4 per cent).
“We didn’t do anything fancy,” coach Denis Savard said. “We got set up. You ain’t gonna see pretty plays. Those are scored with rebounds and screens, getting the puck back to the point with D-to-D and stuff like that.”
Still, Savard said his team has a long way to go.
“It should be a confidence-booster for us, but our power play has to improve,” he said. “Down the road here to the end of the year, it’s going to help us get points.”
Chicago defeated Dallas for the second consecutive time this season, following a 15-game winless streak (13-0-2) against the Stars that dated to March 2002.
The Blackhawks beat Dallas 2-1 on Nov. 29 in Savard’s debut as coach. They are now 9-3-3 under Savard, who took over after Trent Yawney was fired on Nov. 27.
Arkhipov, who assisted on Lapointe’s goal, said his team just tried to keep things simple on the power play.
“We talked a lot,” Arkhipov said. “Instead of a lot of passes tonight, we stayed in front and shot the puck and got some rebounds. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not.”
Stu Barnes scored for the Stars.
Marty Turco made 22 saves in losing for only the second time in his career to Chicago. He is 11-2-1 against the Blackhawks – he lost to them for the first time on Nov. 29.
“You could tell it was a day-after-Christmas game,” Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. “I thought it was a sloppy game.
“It was one of those games where the team that got the lead was going to have a distinct advantage,” he continued. “We gave up two power-play goals and that was the difference. Hopefully we got the turkey out of our legs tonight and we’ll be better tomorrow.”
Dallas went 0-for-4 on the power play but pressured the Blackhawks in the third, outshooting them 11-4.
Midway through the third, with Chicago leading 2-1, Khabibulin withstood a Dallas flurry. Mike Ribeiro had a close-in chance that slid past Khabibulin but was cleared away by defenceman Brent Seabrook.
“It could have gone in, but it didn’t,” Ribeiro said. “But I think the difference is they scored on two power plays and we had plenty of chances and didn’t score.”
Arkhipov’s 5-on-3 power-play goal opened the scoring with 1:46 left in the first period.
After Turco made a glove save on Adrian Aucoin’s shot from the right point, he dropped it. Arkhipov pounced on the loose rebound and scored from the right edge of the crease.
Barnes tied it 1-all 2:05 into the second period. He skated out unchecked from the left corner and beat Khabibulin between the pads from the edge of the crease.
Lapointe gave Chicago the lead with 5:15 left in the second. Standing in front of the crease, he managed a mid-air deflection of Arkhipov’s shot from the top of the right circle.
Khabibulin made a point-blank save on Niklas Hagman midway through the third.
Notes: Dallas C Eric Lindros missed the game with an upper body injury. According to Tippett, Lindros got hurt Saturday against Edmonton and the injury flared up again in Tuesday morning’s skate. … C Mike Modano missed his 10th game with a groin/hip injury. … Chicago C Jeff Hamilton missed his second straight game with the flu. LW Karl Stewart missed his second game with a sprained knee and will be out two to four weeks.