Stars Lose To Avalanche
By Tom Musick, The Sports Xchange
CHICAGO — Dallas Stars right winger Patrick Eaves thought he had a wide-open net for a game-winning goal in overtime.
In a split second, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling recovered and extended his right leg for an incredible, sprawling kick save that kept the game alive.
“It took every inch of me to get to that one,” said Darling, the 6-foot-6 netminder.
Right winger Marian Hossa took it from there. Hossa scored on a slap shot with 28.7 seconds remaining in overtime to lift Chicago to a 4-3 win over Dallas on Sunday night.
Center Jonathan Toews scored a goal and had two assists for the Blackhawks. Right winger Patrick Kane and center Artem Anisimov also scored as Chicago (9-3-1) won its sixth consecutive game.
Darling’s save dominated the conversation in both locker rooms after the game. He moved left to right in the crease to stop the one-timer by Eaves and elicit a loud ovation from a sellout crowd.
Toews said the save reminded him of a similar stop by Darling against Nashville during the 2015 playoffs. Darling provided a brief break for No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford as the Hawks won a Stanley Cup title.
“Same kind of save, just kicking those long legs out,” Toews said. “(Eaves) probably thought he had a goal no matter what and put it along the ice. Scotty’s foot comes out of nowhere. That was a huge one.”
Eaves said he released the shot as quickly as he could.
“That was the look we wanted, and it just didn’t go in,” Eaves said. “He made a (heck) of a save, and we’ve got to live with that.”
Not all was lost as Dallas (4-5-3) earned a point on the road by extending the game to overtime. Rookie center Gemel Smith scored the first two goals of his NHL career, including a one-timer from the slot that evened the score at 3 with 1:20 remaining in the third period.
Smith also scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway during the second period.
“I was thinking, ‘Stay calm, stay calm. Read the goalie, read the goalie,’ ” said Smith, 22. “I kind of lost the puck there (on the breakaway) and tried to pull it back, and luckily it went in.”
Chicago trailed 2-0 after goals by Stars center Tyler Seguin and Smith. The Blackhawks regrouped for three straight goals, including two within a 56-second span, to seize a 3-2 lead early in the third period.
Toews chipped a shot past Lehtonen with 16:21 to play in the third period to even the score at 2. Hossa faked a shot and passed to Toews for the point-blank goal.
Moments later, Toews charged toward the left side of the crease and flicked a wrist shot on net. Lehtonen stopped Toews but could not control the rebound as Anisimov punched in his eighth goal.
“(Toews) had the puck a lot tonight,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought he was dangerous. He was hitting holes, had speed, protecting pucks. He had the production to show for it, as well.
“He’s been getting better every game, and when he starts scoring, knowing everything else he does, it just adds (to our performance).”
Dallas played without center Jason Spezza (lower body) and was forced to mix and match scoring lines with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
However, Stars coach Lindy Ruff said a depleted roster was no excuse for back-to-back losses.
“Those are hard losses,” Ruff said. “We had a good opportunity with the power play in overtime, and Eaves had the great opportunity and I think shot it back into him a little bit. There’s your opportunity to win a game. We fought hard to get back into it.”
Blackhawks right winger Tyler Motte left the game in the second period with an apparent left leg injury and did not return. Motte crashed feet-first into the boards and hobbled slowly off the ice.
“We’ll know more in the next day or so,” Quenneville said.