CHICAGO – The Dallas Stars got a lucky bounce against the Chicago Blackhawks, and might be getting back on track.
Stu Barnes scored a go-ahead short-handed goal with 6:04 left in the third period, and the Stars won 3-1 on Wednesday night. Barnes’ shot from just inside the right point deflected in off Nikolai Khabibulin’s outstretched right pad. Dallas won its second straight after ending a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 home win over Minnesota on Monday.
Even Barnes, who logged just over 10 minutes of ice time, wasn’t exactly sure how his winner got past Khabibulin.
“I got a bounce and it went in,” Barnes said. “But we had some good chances. It wasn’t a pretty shot, but it was a good end.”
Stars coach Dave Tippett agreed.
“He (Barnes) doesn’t play a lot of minutes, but he plays very valuable, meaningful minutes,” Tippett said. “Khabibulin was very good for them. We needed one to go in some way and Stu got us that.”
Dallas’s Loui Eriksson scored a power-play goal in the first period, and Brenden Morrow added an empty-net goal with 17.5 seconds left. Mike Modano assisted on all three goals.
“We had a couple of soft ones on Khabibulin,” Modano said. “Those might be the easiest three assists I’ve ever scored in my life, but you work for your chances and opportunities and it might be the odd bounce that goes your way. Defence has always been the backbone of this team.”
And Tippett was pleased with his team’s buckled-down effort.
“Working hard, kind of grinding through games as been successful recipe all year,” he said. “We’ve got to continue that way.”
Several of Khabibulin’s 27 saves came on prime scoring chances. Dallas netminder Marty Turco made 17 stops, including several in close.
“Marty played great for us,” Barnes said. “No surprise there.”
Robert Lang had the lone goal on a power play for injury-depleted Chicago, which is 0-5-2 in its last seven games.
“It’s frustrating.” Chicago coach Denis Savard said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re working and get out of this funk as soon as possible – the next game.”
The struggling Blackhawks played without seven regulars: defencemen Brent Sopel (broken finger) and James Wisniewski (knee); and forwards Jonathan Toews (knee), Jason Williams (groin), Kevyn Adams (knee), Dave Bolland (broken finger) and Ben Eager (concussion).
Lang opened the scoring on a power-play 6:09 into the game, tipping Duncan Keith’s low shot from the right point between Turco’s pads.
Eriksson’s power-play goal with 1:33 left in the first period tied it 1-1 and ended an 0-for-24 Dallas drought with the advantage, spanning the Stars’ six previous games. Following a failed Chicago clearing attempt, Niklas Hagman fed Eriksson, who cut to the net from right wing. His shot from a sharp angle deflected in off Khabibulin’s skate.
Patrick Kane, the NHL’s leading scorer among rookies, was awarded a penalty shot with 8:13 left in the second period after he stole the puck from Sergei Zubov at the Chicago blue-line, then raced in on Turco while Zubov hooked him from behind.
On the penalty shot, Kane deked Turco to the ice, but fired a backhand shot high and wide on the right side.
“I had the whole net to shoot at and I shot it wide,” Kane said. “It’s not a fun feeling when you miss those. It’s a turning point in the game. It could be 2-1 for us. Instead it’s 1-1 and they’ve got the momentum.”
Khabibulin made several tough saves in the second, include a point-blank stop on Morrow during a Dallas power play with 1:24 left in the period.
Turco made a close-in pad save on Chicago’s Adam Burish 4:10 into the third. He then came up with a sprawling paddle save on Patrick Sharp’s turnaround shot at 9:43.
Notes: Blackhawks D Jordan Hendry played in his first NHL game after being recalled from Rockford of the AHL earlier in the day. D Danny Richmond was assigned to Rockford. … Dallas LW Jussi Jokinen missed his sixth game with a knee sprain and is out day-to-day. Also out for Dallas were RW Jere Lehtinen, who sat out his 25th game with an abdominal injury, and D Philippe Boucher, who missed his 17th due to shoulder surgery. Both Lehtinen and Boucher are out indefinitely.