Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sharp, Niemi, Take Down Blackhawks, 4-0

The highly anticipated matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars did not disappoint.  Especially if you like a fast-paced, speedy game.  Pick a story line: Top two teams in the Central, top three scorers in the NHL (Kane, Benn, Seguin), top two of three active NHL winningest coaches (Quenneville, Ruff), the first game against Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya since leaving Chicago.  The list goes on.  It was the ex-Blackhawks haunting their old team as Sharp would have a goal and an assist, Oduya would have an assist,Antti Niemi would shutout the Hawks for the 3rd time in his career after winning a Stanley Cup with them back in 2010, by the score of 4-0.  You wouldn't know the Hawks were the team that had a day off between games after Dallas played a tough game against the Minnesota Wild, yet won, 6-3 last night.

If you have a need for speed, this was the period to watch.  Fast-paced, up and down skating between both teams.  Not a lot of chances for either team in the period as neither team scored.  The Blackhawks had two power plays during the period and it generated 0 shots.  The Stars pressured them constantly.  To make things worse, the Hawks were outshot, 7-3.

In the second, it was Dallas' turn to go to the power play and they cashed in on their first attempt as Jason Spezza, somehow, squirted one through the pads of Corey Crawford, not a good goal given up, to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.  Late in the period, the Hawks had a scramble in front of Niemi, but could not find the back of the net.  The period would end with Dallas clinging to a 1-0 lead.  The Hawks did better at getting shots on net in the period, out-shooting Dallas, 14-8.

In the third period, the Stars took the game to the next level as ex-Blackhawk, Patrick Sharp haunted his old team as he sniped a shot over the right shoulder of Crawford, just 11 seconds into the period to give Dallas a 2-0 lead.  Just over 2 1/2 minutes later, the Stars struck again as a re-directed shot by Colton Sceviour made it past Crawford and gave Dallas a nicely-cushioned, 3-0 lead.  With 5 1/2 minutes remaining, a centering pass by Mattais Janmark went off the skate of Michal Rozsival and into the net to give Dallas a commanding 4-0 lead.  Dallas skaters were flying the entire 3rd period as they outshot the Blackhawks in the period 17-3 and 32-20 in the game.

Notable mentions: No excuses, but this was the 8th game in 13 days for the Blackhawks.  They will take this game and chew on it for a while and remember it down the road.  Bryan Bickell continues to struggle with the puck and losing battles on the boards.  Dallas had an outrageous 14 takeaways in the game.

Three Stars of The Game
1st - DAL - Antti Niemi (20 saves, 1.000 SV%)
2nd - DAL - Patrick Sharp (1G 1A)
3rd - DAL - Jason Spezza (1G)

Next game: Sunday, December 27th, Home vs. Carolina Hurricanes 6:00PM CT



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