DALLAS, TX - MARCH 16: Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars handles the puck against Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the American Airlines Center on March 16, 2013 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHL on NBCSN: Will Blackhawks stop rising Stars?


NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Dallas Stars at the United Center at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The Detroit Red Wings won last night. Now the Stars have to respond.

Dallas had the slimmest lead on the eighth seed prior to Detroit’s win and the Stars can reclaim it again with a victory against Chicago tonight. Beating the Blackhawks this season is a tall order, but the odds haven’t stopped Dallas lately.

How often do you see a team fully embrace the seller role in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline and still somehow make the playoffs? The Stars dealt Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy, and Jaromir Jagr for picks and prospects and those that were left seemed to haven taken it as a challenge.

They’ve won five straight games, three on the road and four against teams that currently hold a playoff spot, to force their way back into the competition. With three of their top forwards now playing for other teams, 22-year-old rookie Alex Chiasson has stepped up with six goals and seven points in six career games.

All the same, a five-game winning streak isn’t exactly the type of thing that’s likely to intimidate the Chicago Blackhawks. They’re on one right now, although they’ve obviously been on far better streaks this season.

Chicago is 32-5-4 in 2013 and the only real question left is whether or not they’ll win the Presidents’ Trophy. With little else left to accomplish before the playoffs, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wants to see them fight for it.

“It’s a nice achievement, but we still want to finish first in other categories until the end of the year. That’s our motivation,” coach Joel Quenneville told CSN Chicago after his team won the Central Division title. “Let’s keep pushing forward and look for more consistency in our game.”

Probable goaltenders: CHI – Ray Emery (15-1-0, 1.90 GAA, .924 SV%) | DAL – Richard Bachman (6-3-0, 3.18 GAA, .884 SV%)

Top scorers: CHI – Patrick Kane (20-26-46, 41 GP) | DAL – Jamie Benn (8-19-27, 34 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Chicago – Forwards: Patrick Sharp (shoulder)
Dallas – Forwards: Lane MacDermid (chest) Goaltenders: Kari Lehtonen (groin)

Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record

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When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.

Price paid: Devils come back against Condon, Canadiens

Mike Condon, John Moore,
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If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.

The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.

After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.

If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.

Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.

Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

Measuring stick stretch begins

Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.