Blackhawks Battle Third Place Stars
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(WSCR) – The Blackhawks have their full roster available to them for one of the few times all season, last time it happened Jonathan Toews suffered a shoulder injury.
The Dallas Stars are one victory away from notching their longest road winning streak in more than nine years.
To reach that milestone they’ll need to beat a Chicago Blackhawks team that has regularly frustrated them, regardless of where they play.
The Stars seek a sixth straight road victory Wednesday night against the Blackhawks, who look to win for the eighth time in 10 games in this series.
After being outscored 11-4 in dropping back-to-back home games, Dallas (23-13-4) got back on track with a 4-2 win in St. Louis on Sunday as Brad Richards scored the go-ahead goal at 6:32 of the third period.
Dallas, which hasn’t won six straight road games since reeling off seven in a row Nov. 15-Dec. 15, 2001, is 0-3-1 in its last four at home.
“It would be nice to be good at both places,” said Kari Lehtonen, who made 28 saves to snap a personal four-game losing streak Sunday.
Lehtonen, who had given up 10 goals in his previous two games, stopped the final 19 shots he faced.
“It was a great bounce-back game for him,” coach Marc Crawford said. “They had a couple really good chances in the third period and he stood his ground. He’s a calming influence when he plays like that.”
Lehtonen was making his first road start since Dec. 18, as backup Andrew Raycroft had typically been getting the call away from Dallas. Raycroft has posted a 2.22 goals-against average in winning his last three road starts but didn’t fare as well in Chicago last month.
He stopped 20 of 24 shots in a 5-3 loss Dec. 8, as the Stars lost their third straight to Chicago and for the seventh time in nine meetings. Dallas has also lost seven of nine at the United Center.
Chicago (21-17-3) is returning home after beating Los Angeles 4-3 on Monday to snap a three-game losing streak.
Toews scored the winning goal at 14:33 of the third period in his return to the ice to help the Blackhawks reach the midway point of the season with 45 points. They had 59 points after 41 games last season.
“Necessary win, huge win for us,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
Toews injured his shoulder in last Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Blues and sat out the next two games. Chicago had won four in a row prior to its skid.
“He brings a lot to the table. One of the biggest things is his grittiness and his ability to play in front of the net low and know where everyone is going to be,” teammate Duncan Keith said.
“You can never have enough of that, and sure enough, he gets the game-winner being right in the paint and making a great play.”
Toews had a goal and an assist against the Stars last month, giving him four goals and seven assists in his last seven games versus Dallas.
Patrick Kane, who has gone six straight games without a goal, is probably excited to face Dallas after sitting out last month’s meeting because of a left ankle injury. He has nine goals and four assists in his last eight games against the Stars.
Corey Crawford, who has supplanted former Star Marty Turco as Chicago’s No. 1 goaltender, made 28 saves against Dallas in December. Crawford stopped 26 shots Monday and is 11-3-1 with a 2.17 GAA in his last 15 appearances.
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