CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks had a big homecoming party Saturday night.
Martin Havlat had two goals and an assist, Jonathan Toews added a goal and two assists, and the Blackhawks celebrated their return to the sold-out United Center with a 6-2 victory over the Dallas Stars.
Troy Brouwer, Colin Fraser and Kris Versteeg also scored for the Blackhawks, playing their first home game since Jan. 21 following an eight-game trip. Chicago was 5-3-0 on the trip, the second-longest in franchise history and the longest in the NHL this season.
The Blackhawks dominated from the opening faceoff Saturday. They built a 5-0 lead by early in the third period and rolled to the win.
“From the national anthem on, I though everybody contributed to what we were looking for,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “Tonight was what we were hoping for. We had a lot of jump in our team game tonight. Everybody was part of it.”
Havlat, who has 19th goals, said the Blackhawks were on top of their game.
“We did all the little things,” Havlat said. “We were passing. We tried to make easy plays, not make the perfect play all the time.
“We had better energy than the last three games.”
The Blackhawks were flat – and 1-2-0 – in their final three games on the trip.
Chicago may have suffered a serious setback Saturday, however.
Patrick Sharp, the Blackhawks’ leading goal scorer with 23, left the game limping just 39 seconds in with an injury to his left knee or leg. Sharp was slammed by Dallas’s Steve Ott along the boards and was helped off the ice by Chicago trainer Mike Gapski.
Quenneville would only say that Sharp has a lower-body injury.
“I don’t think he’ll be going on the trip,” Quenneville said. “We’ll know more on Monday.”
The Blackhawks play three road games this week before returning to the United Center next Sunday.
Chicago’s Cristobal Huet made 16 saves on Saturday as he started in goal for the second straight night. Nikolai Khabibulin, who usually alternates with Huet, sat out because of a lower-body injury.
Huet lost a shutout bid at 4:40 of the third period when Dallas’s Fabian Brunnstrom scored. Brian Sutherby connected for the Stars late in the third.
Huet allowed one goal on 23 shots in Chicago’s 1-0 loss at St. Louis on Friday.
Dallas’s Marty Turco started his 26th straight start game to extend his franchise record. He made 24 saves on 27 shots through two periods, including several difficult stops, to prevent an early blowout.
Brent Krahn replaced Turco to start the third period and make his NHL debut. He permitted three goals on nine shots.
Dallas coach Dave Tippett said he made the switch because his team was “leaving Turco out to dry.”
“You can count on one hand how many players I think played to capacity,” Tippett said. “Turco made some great saves early, but we didn’t have enough players that thought this game needed the urgency to get the job done.”
The Stars entered the game having won eight of 10 to climb back into the Western Conference playoff race.
“They (Chicago) just outplayed us,” Dallas’s Stephane Robidas said. “That’s not how we want to be perceived as a team.”
Brouwer scored the only goal of the first period, with 6:38 left. Although covered, Brouwer took Toews’ centring pass and muscled a one-time shot from the slot that beat Turco between the legs.
Otherwise, Turco was solid in the first as Chicago outshot Dallas 15-6. He made several flashy stops, including a cartwheeling stick save on Patrick Kane’s shot from the left hash marks midway through the period.
Havlat’s first goal made it 2-0 at 4:06 of the second. Toews drove to the crease, then passed to Havlat, who swept in a shot from the right side.
Havlat connected again, with 8:14 left in the second, to extend the lead to 3-0. His screened shot from the right circle landed in the upper left corner of the net.
Toews made it 4-0 42 seconds into the third when he picked off Mike Ribeiro’s pass and scored from the edge of the crease. Fraser connected from the slot 1:37 later to give Chicago a 5-0 lead.
Brunnstrom beat Huet from the right circle at 4:40 to get Dallas on the board. Sutherby scored on a rebound with 5:52 left to make it 5-2.
Versteeg scored with 4.2 seconds left to complete the scoring.
The crowd of 22,704 was the Blackhawks’ second largest at the United Center this season and their 24th sellout in 24 games.
Notes: Khabibulin’s injury, possibly a flare-up of a groin condition that bothered him earlier this season, isn’t considered serious. He suffered the injury in the 3-1 win at Atlanta on Wednesday and is expected to return this week … Huet was backed up by Antti Niemi, recalled from Rockford of the AHL on Thursday. … Chicago RW Dustin Byfuglien and D James Wisniewski returned to the lineup after sitting out as healthy scratches for two games.