Dallas Stars: Anton Khudobin’s valiant performance not enough

DALLAS, TEXAS - JANUARY 04: Anton Khudobin #35 of the Dallas Stars blocks a shot on goal against the Washington Capitals in the overtime period at American Airlines Center on January 04, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TEXAS - JANUARY 04: Anton Khudobin #35 of the Dallas Stars blocks a shot on goal against the Washington Capitals in the overtime period at American Airlines Center on January 04, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Stars four-game win streak was ended on Saturday night in a rough 2-1 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks. Anton Khudobin had 37 saves in the game as Dallas fell to 35-28-5 on the season.

The Dallas Stars were riding high heading into Saturday night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Alexander Radulov was coming off his first NHL hat trick, Ben Bishop had posted back-to-back shutout victories over the Rangers and the Avalanche earlier in the week, and Dallas had won its last four games in a row.

And then Chicago came to town.

And it wasn’t pretty.

Hawks forward David Kampf opened the scoring on an odd-man rush with veteran Chris Kunitz just over five minutes into the game to give Chicago a quick lead.

"“Our defense had a fairly good game of keeping their big scorers away from our net,” Kunitz said after Chicago’s victory. “They obviously had chances but we were able to hold an offensive team like that off. Their defense’s skates are what made it harder on our forwards. We had to make sure to stay above them and keep up to speed with them. Honestly I think that was one of our best games all year.”"

But, just one minute and thirteen seconds following Kampf’s tally, Alexander Radulov evened the score with a backhand shot in front of the net that snaked past Corey Crawford.

The rest of the first period was slow until Alex DeBrincat scored off a breakaway with less than one minute left in the opening period to regain the lead for Chicago.

DeBrincat, who scored his 37th goal of the season against the Stars on Saturday night, has 66 points on the season—he is third on the Blackhawks in points and second in goals.

"“Yeah, it was a pretty hard-fought battle,” DeBrincat said after the game. “It was a close game, obviously, and a playoff mentality for us. I think those were two points we definitely needed, and we tried to be solid in the D-zone and not let them score.”"

After Radulov’s goal, though, Dallas’ offense couldn’t pick up the pace. They had just 11 shots in the second period and five in the third, compared to 14, 15, and 10 in all three periods for Chicago.

Dallas was able to kill two penalties in the second and third period, with Miro Heiskanen and Esa Lindell both serving minor penalties for delay of game.

The Stars’ did have some chances to come back in the third period, but Chicago’s defense stood tall and prevented Dallas from finding the back of the net again.

"“When we were in Chicago (on Feb. 24), we limited what they had. They got most of their chances on the power plays they had. That game we were relentless in our pursuit,” Montgomery said. “Tonight we didn’t have that same commitment, we weren’t together in our puck pressure.”"

With 70 seconds remaining in the game, the Stars pulled Anton Khudobin in hopes of tying the game in its final stages. With the extra attacker, Dallas was putting the pressure on in their offensive zone, but Jamie Benn was called for an interference penalty with 16.6 seconds remaining in the game to stifle Dallas’ hopes of a comeback.

Here are three takeaways from the Stars’ loss against the Hawks:

1. Anton Khudobin kept Dallas’ hopes alive all night long

After Ben Bishop put up two consecutive shutouts in the Stars last two games, Head Coach Jim Montgomery decided to give Anton Khudobin the nod in net against the Blackhawks on Saturday night.

He didn’t disappoint.

Anton Khudobin was a godsend for Dallas throughout most of the game. In what could’ve been a 4-1 or 5-1 game was stopped at the behest of several fantastic stops by the Kazakhstanian netminder.

"“If you’re looking for a positive, Khudobin was our positive,” Montgomery said. “That’s why we were just lucky. [Ben Bishop] pitches two shut outs and we go with Khudobin and he plays fantastic. We’re really lucky that way. It helped us with the message of, let’s not try and get it back right away. Don’t sell the farm to get one chance and don’t give up chances the other way because we were one shot away because of Khudobin.”"

The loss gives Khudobin a 13-14-3 record in 32 appearances this season.

"“It’s a really big positive to have that,” Stars forward Andrew Cogliano said of Khudobin’s goaltending. “It keeps us in the games at this time of the year. I think goaltending is the most important thing in having a good team and we have that.”“It’s huge,” Stars defenseman John Klingberg said regarding Dallas’ goaltending tandem. “[Bishop and Khudobin are] our best two players through the whole year and they give us a chance to win every night. I don’t know what to say more. They’re playing really good and we had to step up and score some more goals and be able to generate more offense.”"

2. Radulov’s offensive hot streak continues

After having scored three goals in Thursday night’s 4-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche, Alexander Radulov found the scoresheet again on Saturday night, scoring Dallas’ only goal of the game.

Radulov has 21 goals and 55 points on the season for Dallas.

For the Stars, Radulov’s offensive production over the past couple of weeks has been huge for Dallas, a team that needs an extra boost on the goal-scoring front as the end of the regular season draws closer.

"“He’s a great competitor and we expected him to play at a high level tonight,” Montgomery said of Radulov after his hat trick performance on Thursday night against Colorado. “You could tell that he had intensity about him the way he was practicing while he was out.”"

Radulov has eight points—five goals and three assists—in his last eight games. Four of those five goals have come in Dallas’ most recent two games.

3. Stars miss golden chance to grow slim margin in playoff race

The Stars headed into the game against the Blackhawks with a lucrative opportunity to extend their lead over the Minnesota Wild, who sit one point behind Dallas in the standings. Minnesota had lost on Friday night 6-2 to the Florida Panthers, giving Dallas a chance to jump ahead by three points in the playoff race. However, that was dependent on the Stars beating the Blackhawks—and they didn’t.

"“We didn’t have tons of energy,” Montgomery said. “In the first period, it wasn’t bad. The second period, that’s where I thought the game got away from us. They out-skated us and skated us into the ground. In the third period we were smarter but we still couldn’t generate, we didn’t have enough oomph in us tonight.”"

Had Dallas beaten Chicago, they would’ve been two points behind the St. Louis Blues, who lost to the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Saturday. Instead, Dallas is still four points behind them, and other teams in the Western Conference are breathing down the back of the Stars’ neck.

The Arizona Coyotes, who sit right on the outskirts of a wild card spot with 73 points, beat Los Angeles 4-2 on Saturday night. They are on a roll as of late, having gone 8-2-0 in their last ten games.

The Colorado Avalanche also rebounded after being shutout by the Stars by defeating the Buffalo Sabres 3-0. They are 6-3-1 in their last ten.

Here is a look at the Wild Card breakdown in the Western Conference:

Dallas Stars: 35-28-5—75 PTS

WC2: Minnesota Wild: 33-28-8—74 PTS

More from Dallas Stars

In the Hunt:

  1. Arizona Coyotes: 34-29-5—73 PTS
  2. Colorado Avalanche: 30-27-12—72 PTS
  3. Chicago Blackhawks: 29-30-9—67 PTS
  4. Edmonton Oilers: 30-31-7—67 PTS
  5. Vancouver Canucks: 28-32-9—65 PTS
  6. Anaheim Ducks: 27-33-9—63 PTS
  7. Los Angeles Kings: 24-36-8—56 PTS

Dallas will have a chance to regroup on the road for their next two games. First, they will head to play the Buffalo Sabres—Dallas has already beaten them once this season 1-0—and then they will play at the Xcel Energy Center against the Minnesota Wild.

Next. Radulov's Hat Trick Gives Stars Boost to Defeat Avs. dark

What do you think, Stars fans? What needs to change for Dallas to become a consistent team? Will they play well on the road? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

  • Published on 03/10/2019 at 11:45 AM
  • Last updated at 03/10/2019 at 11:45 AM