By Tom Musick, The Sports Xchange
CHICAGO — Chicago Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane practiced a new shootout maneuver against backup goaltender Scott Darling during Thursday’s morning skate.
Kane crossed from left to right and paused in front of the crease before flipping a backhand shot.
“It ended up working out,” Kane said.
Nearly 12 hours later, Kane decided to try the same move in a game setting. It worked out — again.
Kane and Artemi Panarin each scored in the shootout, and the Blackhawks outlasted the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Thursday night. Kane and Marian Hossa scored in regulation.
Chicago (48-20-6) earned at least one point for the seventh consecutive game (6-0-1). The Blackhawks improved to 18-3-1 in the past 22 contests and increased their Central Division lead to eight points.
Ales Hemsky scored both Stars’ goals. Tyler Seguin scored during the bonus session, but Jamie Benn and Hemsky were denied in their shootout attempts for Dallas (29-33-11).
Despite the shootout loss, Stars players were happy to pick up a point on the road against one of the best teams in the league.
“It was a great game,” Hemsky said. “We’ve just got to keep it going like that.”
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 42 saves in regulation and overtime. Crawford made several dazzling stops, including one against Stars left winger Remi Elie on a breakaway in overtime. Crawford (30-15-3) reached the 30-win milestone for the fourth straight season and the sixth time in his career.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford’s performance marked one of the brightest points about the game. Two days earlier, Crawford was pulled in the third period after allowing four goals on 10 shots against the Vancouver Canucks.
“We’re fortunate to have the goaltending we’ve had over the course of the season,” Quenneville said. “Consistency is one of their strengths. Good response tonight.”
Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen turned aside 24 shots before the shootout round. He dropped to 18-22-7 on the season but has allowed only two goals in his past two outings.
“I think we played a pretty good game,” Lehtonen said. “It was nice to see us dominate at some points a team like Chicago. Their goalie had a (heck) of a night, but it was good to get it tied up after being down in that last period.”
Hossa put Chicago on top 2-1 with 11:23 remaining in the third period. Center Nick Schmaltz fed a quick pass to Hossa, who steadied the puck and fired a slap shot past Lehtonen.
Dallas responded to even the score 2-2 with 5:09 to go in regulation. Defenseman Eda Lindell flipped a shot toward the net, and the puck deflected to Hemsky to the left of the crease before Crawford could recover. Hemsky capitalized for his second goal of the game and the third goal of his injury-shortened season.
Chicago opened the scoring on a wrist shot by Kane with 11:47 to go in the first period. The shot marked Kane’s team-leading 33rd goal of the season and his 13th in the past 14 games.
Dallas evened the score 1-1 on Hemsky’s first goal of the game with 7:34 remaining in the second period. Center Cody Eakin parked near the crease as Hemsky unleashed a wrist shot above Crawford’s right shoulder.
The Blackhawks improved to 13-6 in overtime and 4-1 in shootouts during the regular season. Meanwhile, the Stars dropped to 3-11 in overtime and 0-2 in shootouts.
Lehtonen chuckled and shook his head when asked about trying to stop Kane one on one.
“It’s interesting,” Lehtonen said. “I tried something new today. The last couple times, I’ve had a hard time with Kane, and my new thing didn’t work, either. I need to come up with something else again.”
Kane said he relied on practice time and video analysis of goaltenders to create new moves.
“You’re always trying to think of new things to keep it fresh,” Kane said.