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Dallas Stars Vs. Chicago Blackhawks: Stars Host Defending Stanley Cup Champs

(Sports Network) - The Blackhawks reminded the rest of the Western Conference just how dangerous their offense still is.

Chicago tries for a second straight victory and to deal the Dallas Stars a third consecutive setback this evening when the two playoff-hopeful clubs clash at American Airlines Center.

Taking on the Pacific Division-leading Sharks on Monday, the Blackhawks exploded for five goals in the second period en route to a 6-3 victory. The win snapped a three-game slide and improved the club to 9-1-2 in its past 12 games.

Patrick Sharp filled the role of playmaker by notching a career-high four assists, all in the second period, while Marian Hossa scored twice to reach the 20-goal mark for an 11th straight season. Hossa has nine goals and six assists in his last 11 games.

"The first period wasn't our best so there were a few words in the locker room," said Hossa. "We settled down and played our game after that. They got into penalty trouble and we were able to get some power-play goals."

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane both finished with a goal and an assist. Kane's tally was the 100th of his career, while Toews now has an outstanding 13 goals and 20 assists in his past 21 games, giving him a career-high 71 points on the season.

Though still eight points back of Detroit for first place in the Central Division, Chicago sits sixth overall in the West, one point back of Los Angeles and Phoenix. Dallas is a point back of the Blackhawks and just two up on 10th-place Nashville.

Corey Crawford made his 15th straight start on Monday and made 33 saves. He is 1-1-0 with a 3.17 goals-against average in three games (two starts) versus the Stars.

Defenseman Brian Campbell sat out for the second time in three games versus the Sharks because of a left leg injury, while forward Dave Bolland missed his second game in a row due to a concussion. Neither player traveled to Dallas for this game, though Campbell could play Sunday in Phoenix.

The Stars didn't fare much better versus the Sharks on Tuesday, dropping a 6-3 contest that featured a pair of empty-net goals by San Jose in the game's final 1:08. Still, Kari Lehtonen yielded four goals on 37 shots as Dallas lost its second straight since a 6-0-2 run.

"You win or lose by your special teams and tonight we could have got back in the game if we could have got that big one," Dallas' Steve Ott said after his team fell to 1-2-1 on a season-long seven-game homestand.

Jamie Benn paced the offense with a goal and two assists. He has scored a goal in seven of the eight games of his current point streak, adding four assists.

Already without forward Adam Burish for a second game in a row due to a lower- body issue, winger Loui Eriksson left Tuesday's loss in the second period with an upper-body injury after taking a hit from San Jose's Douglas Murray. Burish and Eriksson are questionable for tonight.

Lehtonen is likely to get his 12th straight start tonight and is 2-1-0 with a 2.29 GAA in his career versus the Blackhawks.

The Stars have taken two straight from the Blackhawks, notching a 4-3 shootout win at home in the last meeting on Feb. 11. Dallas has won 12 of its past 17 home meetings against Chicago with a tie in that span as well.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.