Leddy’s late goal not enough as Blackhawks drop season opener
BEN MEYER-ABBOTT ON THE BLACKHAWKS October 7, 2011 11:44PM
Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn break the glass. | Sharon Ellman~AP
STARS 2, HAWKS 1
BLACKHAWKS 0 0 1 — 1
Dallas 0 2 0 — 2
First Period—None. Penalties—Fistric, Dal (slashing), 4:54.
Second Period—1, Dallas, Goligoski 1 (Ribeiro), :59. 2, Dallas, Ja.Benn 1 (Souray, Daley), 16:02. Penalties—Morrow, Dal (interference), 1:53; Souray, Dal (roughing), 7:21; Robidas, Dal (tripping), 14:16; Hossa, Chi (slashing), 15:56.
Third Period—3, HAWKS, Leddy 1 (Kane, Pirri), 19:46. Penalties—Keith, Chi (holding), 14:03.
Shots on Goal—BLACKHAWKS 9-22-7—38. Dallas 13-12-8—33.
Power-play opportunities—BLACKHAWKS 0 of 4; Dallas 0 of 2.
Goalies—BLACKHAWKS, Crawford 0-1-0 (33 shots-31 saves). Dallas, Lehtonen 1-0-0 (38-37).
A—15,285 (18,532). T—2:26.
Referees—Mike Hasenfratz, Mike Leggo. Linesmen—Ryan Galloway, Jay Sharrers.
Updated: November 16, 2011 11:23AM
DALLAS — A lot went right for the Blackhawks with their new-look lineup.
Corey Crawford showed the form that earned him the No. 1 spot last season. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa were their ever-reliable selves. Patrick Sharp showed little-to-no rust in his first game action since his appendectomy, and Patrick Kane looked like he had played center for years.
But those positives weren’t enough to overcome Kari Lehtonen and the unavoidable adjustment period as the Hawks, who had seven players make their debut for the team, lost 2-1 to the Dallas Stars in front of 15,285 at the American Airlines Center in the season opener.
“We’ve got to play with a little more energy [Saturday] and make sure we’re talking because it’s early,” Toews said. “We’re not going to be perfect. The guys just have to have good sticks and maybe better awareness of where their guys are. We were getting sucked into the puck a little bit and focusing on that and just leaving guys open behind us.”
Hossa turned in a beastly 22:23 — double-shifting with the fourth line — as the Hawks coped with the absence of Dave Bolland (upper body), Ben Smith (concussion), Viktor Stalberg (knee) and Daniel Carcillo (suspension).
But it was a quiet debut for the Hawks’ newcomers, including Andrew Brunette.
“We did some better things in the second period, [but] we were sloppy different parts throughout the game, probably trying to make too many plays instead of getting a little more on net,” Brunette said. “[My performance] was not up to [my] expectations, and [we’re] still in a little bit of a feeling-out process, and we’ve got to do some things a little bit different.”
The Hawks juggled their lines during the game with Kane returning to the top line to combine with Toews and Sharp.
“We shook up the lineup a little bit, and it seems like we finally found some jump,” Hossa said. “We created more chances in the offensive zone. It’s too bad we didn’t score a little bit earlier; that would have given us a little more jump.”
The Hawks outshot the Stars 22-12 in the second period, but goals from Alex Goligoski and Jamie Benn gave Dallas the lead.
“Thanks to [Crawford], we had a lot of great chances,’’ Toews said. ‘‘He kept us in that, kept it close where if we had a few go in [for] us in the second period, we could have been right there. Frustrating that we couldn’t find a way to get a little more luck around the net.”
Nick Leddy scored with 13.6 seconds left after the Hawks had pulled Crawford for the extra attacker to ruin Lehtonen’s bid for the 18th shutout of his career. Kane and Brandon Pirri had the assists.
“That was a tough first goal,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “[Crawford] had a great first start in the first period. Their goalie was pretty strong, as well. So it was one of those nights where we were behind 2-0, and we couldn’t get that first one until it was too late.”
It was the fourth win in the last five games against the Hawks for Dallas, which won three of four meetings between the teams who battled to the final minute of the regular season for the final playoff spot last year.
Brandon Saad, in his NHL debut, and Pirri avoided major missteps, and Saad even saw time on the power play.
“It’s disappointing; it’s not what we wanted,” Brunette said. “We just got to battle back and work and salvage something out of the weekend and play well on home ice [Saturday night] and get back on the right foot.”