DALLAS — The Blackhawks aren’t a team that rattles easily, but even battle-tested, three-time Stanley Cup champion Niklas -Hjalmarsson had to admit that when the Dallas Stars turned the Hawks’ one-goal lead into a one-goal deficit in the third period Saturday night, there was a foreboding sense of “Here we go again.”
“Yeah, a little bit, to be honest with you,” Hjalmarsson said after a long pause. “It’s been a pattern the last four or five games.”
The Hawks squandered third-period leads in two losses before the All-Star break. They gave up a late third-period goal in a loss at San Jose after the break. And they had to hold on for dear life to protect a one-goal lead at lowly Arizona.
But against a desperate Stars team trying to climb back into the playoff picture, the Hawks responded in a big way. Patrick Kane scored the equalizer on a breakaway, and Trevor van Riemsdyk notched the game-winner as the Hawks pulled out a rollicking 5-3 victory that will make the team’s Super Bowl party that much more enjoyable.
“We’ll take it,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We came back in a situation where, lately, our thirds haven’t been great.”
The game wasn’t sealed until Ryan Hartman dove to break up a sure goal by Stars captain Jamie Benn with less than two minutes to go. Jonathan Toews added an empty-netter with 0.9 seconds left.
“Huge,” Hjalmarsson said. “I was screaming at him on the bench. That obviously would have been a goal otherwise. That was a key save. It would have been a tap-in.”
After Radek Faksa’s seemingly harmless fling from a sharp angle somehow snuck behind Corey Crawford just eight seconds into the second period, the Hawks dominated the rest of the period — led by their rookies.
Tanner Kero chased down a Marian Hossa chip-in pass and made a nice feed to Hartman for the equalizer at 6:20 of the second. Three minutes later, Gustav Forsling made it 2-1 when his shot shattered Patrick Sharp’s stick and fluttered underneath the crossbar. The Hawks had 18 shots on goal in the first 12 minutes of the period.
But Benn tied it just 40 seconds into the third. Then, at 9:24, Tyler Seguin took advantage of a Forsling turnover behind the Hawks net and slipped the puck between Crawford’s legs to give Dallas a 3-2 lead.