The Chicago Blackhawks came closer than any other team to ending Dallas’ winning streak, taking the host Stars to a shootout in a 2-1 loss Saturday.
The Stars extended their run Monday night, beating the visiting Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 to tie the franchise record with a seventh straight win.
The Blackhawks will get another crack at stopping Dallas’ surge when the teams meet Tuesday night in Chicago.
On Saturday, the Blackhawks certainly wouldn’t have made it to the shootout without the play of goaltender Robin Lehner, who stopped 40 of 41 shots through regulation and overtime.
Still, Lehner felt the need to defend himself the next day.
“We went head to head against one of the best teams in the league last game. What are they, 10-1 in their last 11 games?” Lehner said of the Stars. “We lose that game and what’s the headlines? (Forward Alex) DeBrincat can’t buy a goal, Robin can’t stop a shootout, we can’t get a call.
“The negativity is overwhelming. We’ve been playing a little up and down, but we’re getting better and we’re in the race. We played a great game against one of the better teams, we lost in a lottery, and then it turns all negative. We believe in each other in here.”
Lehner, who has an NHL-leading .938 save percentage, isn’t a fan of the shootout. He’s 8-22 in his career in them and has allowed four goals on five shots in losing both of his shootouts this season.
He even went so far as to suggest perhaps he should be pulled for another goalie next time the Blackhawks get in that situation.
“I just want us to make the playoffs,” Lehner said. “That’s why I signed here. So if the coach feels (another goalie would be better in a shootout), he should definitely go for it. I would definitely not be mad. All for the team, and I wouldn’t take it personal because I know I’m a good hockey goalie. Has nothing to do with the shootout. Has nothing to do with the breakaways. It’s just a totally different game.”
Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said he hasn’t considered that option.
“(Lehner’s) played really well for us,” Colliton said. “We’ve had a couple shootouts where we lost. I don’t think that detracts from the job he’s doing in the net.”
Lehner even took suggestions on Twitter for improving his shootout results.
“I actually got some good ones,” Lehner said. “A Harvard study sent me (something) on shootouts, I thought that was interesting. So, just kind of livening it up a little bit.”
While this will be a home-and-home series for the Blackhawks, the Stars beat the Golden Knights in between. On Tuesday, they will look to top the franchise mark for consecutive wins set by the Minnesota North Stars in 1980 and matched four times since.
Alexander Radulov had two power-play goals and an assist Monday, defenseman John Klingberg had three assists, and Ben Bishop made 26 saves as the Stars extended their points streak to 12 games (11-0-1).
“The team is playing with a lot of confidence now,” Klingberg, who returned Saturday against Chicago after missing six games with a lower-body injury, told the Dallas Morning News. “I can really tell it’s a different team from now than when I got injured. It’s nice to be back, we’re rolling. We have good confidence, and everyone is a big part of this.”
–Field Level Media