Bill Meltzer: Star Gazing: Dallas Settles For One Point on Opening Night

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There is little margin for error when teams play against the powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks, as the Dallas Stars once again discovered in an opening night 3-2 shootout loss on Thursday night at the American Airlines Center. The game was a seesaw affair that saw the Stars outshoot

Chicago by a 34-26 margin for the game and take a 2-1 lead to the second intermission.

Ultimately, it wasn’t good enough. Dallas had to settle for one point in the standings after the lead slipped away in the third period and Chicago went on to win in the skills competition. The Stars were not lacking for scoring chances but had trouble solving Corey Crawford (32 saves on 34 shots, 3-for-3 in the shootout).

Trevor Daley(power play) and Cody Eakin scored second-period goals for the Stars. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen turned back 24 of 26 shots during the game and one of two in the shootout. Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp had a goal and an assist apiece for Chicago in regulation.

Patrick Kane scored the lone goal in the shootout for either team to win the game for Chicago, tucking a backhander past Lehtonen. For Dallas, Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin and Ales Hemsky were all denied by Crawford. Jonathan Toews opened the shootout for Chicago but was unable to beat Lehtonen.

Dallas was the better team for the vast majority of the opening 40 minutes of play. In the opening frame, the speedy Stars held Chicago’s high-powered attack to just three shots while generating eight of their own. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks did what top teams do: They found a way to emerge from the period with the lead, courtesy of Crawford and a late goal by Keith.

The Keith goal came with just 43.7 ticks left on the first period clock. On the play, Sharp carried the puck all the way around the perimeter as he around Alex Goligoski, took the puck behind the net and went up the boards on the other side. A pair of quick touch passes ensued, with Sharp passing to Brent Seabrook at center point and Seabrook feathering a pass to defense partner Keith in the right circle. Keith wristed a shot that leaked through Lehtonen, who seemed to have everything covered.

The 1-0 Chicago lead held until 10:13 of a second period in which the Stars cranked their attack in high gear and outshot the recent two-time Stanley Cup champions by a 16-8 margin.

With Dallas on the power play, Daley knocked down a high pass from Hemsky at the bottom of the right circle. Momentarily steadying the puck, Daley snapped a shot past Crawford to tie the game at 1-1. The sequence started with a clean faceoff win by Jamie Benn back to Tyler Seguin, which enabled Dallas to immediate get set up on the attack. Spezza received the secondary assist on the goal for his first point as a Star.

At 15:04 of the second period, the Stars grabbed a 2-1 lead. On a broken line rush, Eakin grabbed a loose puck in the deep slot and snapped a tracer of a wrist shot off the pipe and into the net. Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt received the assists.

Chicago was a bit fortunate to get through two periods down by just a goal. Crawford stoned both Garbutt and Shawn Horcoff on breakaway among the 14 saves he made in the middle stanza.

Chicago took over the game in the third period. The Stars got into some penalty trouble (three minors) and the Blackhawks outshot the home side by a 14-9 margin. At 11:10 of the third period, moments after Jordie Benn went to the box on a stick holding infraction on former Stars forward Brad Richards, Sharp ripped home a slapshot from the top of the right circle. Keith and Kane earned the assists.

Dallas had to survive a late-game Jordie Benn delay of game penalty to get the game to overtime. Vernon Fiddler nearly won the game for Dallas but was denied by Crawford on a shorthanded scoring bid.

The two teams generated just one shot apiece in overtime before the game moved to the shootout. After Kane put Chicago ahead in the second round, Crawford denied Hemsky in the third round to grab the extra point for the Blackhawks.

The Stars return to action on Saturday night. The team will travel to Nashville to take on the new-look Nashville Predators, featuring former Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins sniper James Neal on the top line and new head coach Peter Laviolette behind the bench.

This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.

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