Blackhawks beat Stars to reach midway point of NHL season

The Hawks rode Kevin Lankinen and special teams play to a 4-2 win Thursday, finishing the first half of the season 14-9-5 and in a playoff spot.

SHARE Blackhawks beat Stars to reach midway point of NHL season

Kevin Lankinen made 28 saves as the Blackhawks won 4-2 on Thursday.

AP Photos

Jeremy Colliton isn’t a big believer in shots on goal as an accurate measurement of team performance.

“I typically don’t look at shots,” the Blackhawks coach said last week. “That wouldn’t be one of the [stats] I spend a lot of energy on. We look at chances, we look at entries, just different things you focus on because you feel like they lead to winning.”

The Hawks’ 4-2 win over the Stars on Thursday was excellent evidence to support his argument.

The Stars finished with a 30-16 shots on goal advantage. At the second intermission, the difference was even more dramatic: the Hawks had scored four times on eight shots on goal, whereas the Stars had scored on zero of 22. Stars starter Anton Khudobin, pulled in favor of Jake Oettinger for the third period, finished with a save percentage of .500.

Yet the Hawks didn’t play that poorly overall.

Scoring chances were a more reasonable 31-19, and the visitors were able to ride a strong bounce-back game by goalie Kevin Lankinen, a 2-for-5 showing by the power play and a 5-for-5 night for the penalty kill.

“Didn’t like our first period, so in that respect, the shots probably reflected how we thought we played,” Colliton said. “The last two periods, we were solid. [We got] a couple big goals on the power play. The third [period], we talked about keeping the pressure on and forcing them to defend. We had some really good sequences.”

Added Duncan Keith: “At the end of the day, it probably wasn’t our best game, but we got the two points. We need to take the positives. Our power play was good. Our penalty kill did a really good job.”

The win upped the Hawks’ record to an impressive 14-9-5 at the midway point of the season.

Their .589 points percentage ranks fourth in the Central Division and securely in a playoff spot. The Stars were unable to make up ground in this week’s series and sit well back in fifth with a .477 points percentage.

Lankinen finished with 28 saves on 30 shots, while Carl Soderberg’s immovable net-front presence hampered Khudobin and Oettinger on the other end, leading directly to two Hawks goals.

Rookie defenseman Ian Mitchell was scratched for the second consecutive game after playing the first 26 this season. Colliton said this week was a good opportunity to review video with Mitchell and let him “reset.”

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