Crawford, Blackhawks top guns outshine Stars 5-2 - FOX 32 News Chicago

Crawford, Blackhawks top guns outshine Stars 5-2

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Dallas Stars would have defeated many teams with a similar effort but the Blackhawks aren't a typical bunch. Paced by a top notch performance by Corey Crawford and the resolve shown by their best forwards the Hawks skated out of Dallas with a 5-2 victory.

The beauty of sports is the unexpected often happens.

On Saturday night the Chicago penalty killing unit, which has been a big disappointment this season and ranks near the bottom of the NHL was a perfect six for six. The Hawks took five consecutive penalties and then added one more for good measure at 18:42 of the third period. Dallas managed only eight shots over 12 minutes of power play time and were held scoreless. Marcus Kruger and Brandon Saad might be developing some chemistry as they were paired together and each recorded almost five minutes of ice time while shorthanded.

The start wasn't what Joel Quenneville would have wanted as the play was slanted toward the home team in much of the opening frame. The Blackhawks were guilty of taking too many careless penalties but they came on.

At the end of the first period the game was tied at one on a Marian Hossa goal off a slick feed from Jonathan Toews. In the middle frame the Chicago attack took hold and scored twice to take a 3-2 lead, but Dallas wasn't done. The Stars pressured the Hawks throughout the final period and if not for many good saves from Crawford they could have gotten the game to overtime.

Hossa added his second goal of the night as Dallas was aggressive in trying to tie the score and became vulnerable. Patrick Sharp notched his fourth assist of the game when he chipped the puck to Hossa who went in alone on Kari Lehtonen. The Stars goaltender was out the net for an extra attacker as Niklas Hjalmarsson scored the fifth Chicago goal. Toews and Patrick Kane also dented the twine in the middle period as Chicago's top guns played a big part in Saturday night's contest.

My guess was Nikolai Khabibulin would get the start in goal on the road in Dallas. My thinking was Quenneville wouldn't want the Chicago crowd to turn on Khabibulin if he had another poor outing, so he would start him in Dallas. This is a man's game and hurt feeling don't matter much. Quenneville made the correct decision by starting Crawford. Khabibulin might not have been up to the task as the Stars did skate well and had some very good scoring chances.

In post game remarks Quenneville didn't commit to naming a starting goaltender for tonight's match versus Edmonton. Once again next weekend the Blackhawks play back to back games, in Nashville and then at home against San Jose. Tonight appears to be the best opportunity for Khabibulin to get back on track.

Khabibulin will be 41 in January, he has won a Stanley Cup and has been in the NHL since 1994. He knows what is needed and there is no better time to get on his game then by defeating the Oilers. Before signing this summer with Chicago, Khabibulin had a four year stint in Edmonton. He should be motivated for a number of reasons and a strong effort will likely be needed.

The Oilers have recorded only 10 points on the season, but they do come up with good efforts in Chicago. The Stars pressured the Hawk defenders and had them back on their heels. The Oilers can skate well and will look to do the same.

Quenneville will do his best to have his squad focused as home ice points need to be put in the bank. Much stiffer competition will be coming later in the week and after tonight the Hawks will play only two more home games this month.

Al's Shots

The penalty killing unit had success and Kruger continues to improve at the dot. 

Kruger won nine of 14 faceoffs, good for 64%.

More importantly he was a winner of eight of 12 defensive zone draws.

Kruger's 67% win percentage on defensive zone faceoffs was a needed improvement.

As a team Chicago won 50% of all shorthanded faceoffs.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia and I will be back on Monday morning.

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