Blackhawks’ losing ways continue against staunch Stars, but Lucas Carlsson’s debut a bright spot
The Hawks have lost eight of their last 10 games after a 2-1 matinee defeat Sunday.
DALLAS — The Blackhawks found space hard to find in their 2-1 loss Sunday to the Stars.
That’s partly because things aren’t clicking right now for the Hawks, who have lost eight of their last 10 games, but it’s also partly because the Stars have become one of the staunchest defensive teams in the NHL.
‘‘They’re a good team at swarming all over the ice, whether it’s on the forecheck, neutral zone, defensively,’’ wing Brandon Saad said. ‘‘Anytime we got flat-footed in the corner, they swarmed us and went the other way. So it makes it tough on ourselves.’’
Only the Bruins have yielded fewer than the 157 goals the Stars have allowed this season (2.3 per game).
Goalies Anton Khudobin (the league leader with a .943 save percentage at five-on-five) and Ben Bishop (seventh in the league with a .922 save percentage overall) are big reasons why.
So is the ultra-underrated defensive core of Miro Heiskanen, John Klingberg and Esa Lindell, with Andrej Sekera and Jamie Oleksiak complementing the trio.
‘‘They’ve got a veteran group that knows how to play up and down the lineup,’’ coach Jeremy Colliton said. ‘‘They’ve got guys with tremendous defensive awareness.’’
That stinginess certainly has been on display against the Hawks, who have scored only four goals (not counting an empty-netter) in three games against the Stars.
Only wing Dominik Kubalik, with a power-play blast that made his exclusion from the top unit until a few weeks ago seem even more inexplicable, was able to beat Khudobin on Sunday.
The Hawks’ power play finished 1-for-5 but showed promise. The Hawks also threatened during a six-on-five sequence in the waning minutes after pulling goalie Corey Crawford. At five-on-five, however, they were hapless. The Stars out-chanced them 30-12.
Defenseman Lucas Carlsson looked skilled and confident in his NHL debut despite not even practicing with the Hawks.
Paired with Connor Murphy, Carlsson played nearly 15 minutes and impressed with his puck-moving ability and active stick. His highlight moment came when he gained control of a loose puck, spun around a Stars defender and passed to a wide-open Kubalik in the crease for a near-goal.
‘‘He was assertive, physical, made plays, skated the puck,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘He did well.’’
Carlsson, 22, said he was ‘‘shocked’’ to learn of his call-up Saturday from Rockford and felt nervous at first, but it didn’t seem to affect his performance. He made a solid case for more NHL time the rest of the season, especially if Erik Gustafsson and others are traded Monday.
‘‘I still have one more year on my contract, so I want to show what I can do,’’ Carlsson said. ‘‘Hopefully play a few more games here and see what happens.’’
Crawford solid again
For the second consecutive game, Crawford started and Robin Lehner was relegated to backup duties. It’s an intriguing development with Lehner’s name circulating in trade speculation.
Crawford, meanwhile, completed a stellar weekend. After stopping 42 of 43 shots Friday against the Predators, he saved 31 of 33 shots against the Stars.
He hasn’t allowed more than three goals in any game since the holiday break and has a .932 save percentage in his last 11 appearances.