CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks are trying get into a groove so they can head into the playoffs firing on all cylinders.
Even without star forward Patrick Kane, the defending Stanley Cup champions showed signs of moving in the right direction Tuesday night.
Andrew Shaw and Duncan Keith each had a goal and an assist, and Chicago held on for a 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars.
“We did some good things throughout the game,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “All four lines were contributing and our special teams were good as well. Good win.”
Kris Versteeg and Marian Hossa also scored for Chicago, which needs just one more point to clinch a playoff berth for the sixth straight season. Patrick Sharp added two assists to help Chicago finish 4-1 against Dallas in the Central Division rivals’ regular-season series.
“It was a big win tonight,” said Keith, second in scoring among defencemen with 57 points. “They’re a hungry team, fighting for their playoff lives.”
Ryan Garbutt scored twice for the Stars, who fell three points behind Phoenix for the final Western Conference playoff berth.
Dallas matched Chicago’s speed and effort early, but eventually the Blackhawks took over and built a 3-1 lead. Garbutt’s second goal cut it to 3-2 late in the third, but Hossa’ empty-netter sealed the Blackhawks’ solid effort.
Chicago’s Corey Crawford made 25 saves, while Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen blocked 38 shots.
“They’re a fast team, can really skate,” Crawford said. “They got the jump early and then our ‘D’ were able to shut them down really good.
“They really shut down everything in the third period.”
Dallas’ Tyler Seguin set up Garbutt’s goal in the second period to extend his point streak to 10 games. He has seven goals and 10 assists during the run.
Blackhawks top prospect Teuvo Teravainen didn’t record a point in his NHL debut, but logged 11 minutes and 39 seconds of ice time. The 19-year-old forward was Chicago’s first-round draft pick in 2012 and led his team in Finland, Jokerit, in scoring this season.
Chicago played its third game without Kane, who is on long-term injured reserve and may miss the rest of the regular season.
Dallas had several good chances early, including Garbutt’s breakaway just over 2 minutes in. Crawford stopped his close-in rising shot with a glove save.
“We hung around the first 10 minutes and Garbutt had the breakaway,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “But I thought they slowly started taking it away from us.
“We slowed the game down and they sped it up all the time.”
Chicago took charge as the period progressed, then Shaw’s power-play goal with 18 seconds left in the first opened the scoring.
Shaw swept in a rebound of Sharp’s shot from the blue line with a highlight-reel effort. Shaw was knocked to the ice by Dallas defenceman Trevor Daley in the crease, but backhanded in the loose puck as he fell to his knees and while facing away from the net.
Versteeg was credited with a goal at 4:12 of the second that made it 2-0.
After Dallas’ Antoine Roussel failed to clear the puck, Versteeg slid a pass toward Hossa who was cruising in down the slot. Rousell reached with his stick to break up the pass, but deflected the pucks past Lehtonen.
Garbutt didn’t miss on his second breakaway of the game, and cut it to 2-1 midway through the second.
He skated in behind the Blackhawks defence after Seguin banked a pass off the left boards from the Stars zone. Garbutt cut across the crease and slipped a backhander between Crawford’s pads.
Keith restored Chicago’s two-goal lead at 3-1 with 5:45 left in the period on a fluttering screened shot from the left point.
Garbutt’s second goal cut it to 3-2 with 5:40 left in the third.
Following Nick Leddy’s turnover in the right corner of the Chicago zone, Garbutt carried the puck to the net. Crawford stopped his first shot, but Garbutt stuffed in the rebound from right side of the goal.
“It’s too bad we couldn’t get the third (goal) there,” Garbutt said. “It’s doesn’t matter if it’s pretty or not this time of year.
“We’ll just take what we can get and need to start scoring more as a team.”
Hossa fired into an empty net with 33.3 seconds left to complete the scoring.
Notes: Keith has six goals and 51 assists for his 57 points. … The Blackhawks won 49 of 71 faceoffs on Tuesday. Captain Jonathan Toews was 23-for-28 and Teravainen was 7-for-7. Blackhawks F Bryan Bickell (upper-body) and D Michal Rozsival (lower-body) each missed their third games with injuries. … Dallas F Erik Cole sat out his third game with an upper-body injury. … Long-time Blackhawks beat writer Tim Sassone, who passed away Tuesday, was honoured with a moment of silence before the game. He covered the team for the Arlington Heights, Ill. Daily Herald for the past 26 years.