Crawford sharp in goal for Blackhawks

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 16, 2012
Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp scored in the game's first two minutes, Corey Crawford made 21 saves, and the surging Chicago Blackhawks beat the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Friday night. Bolland's 18th goal of the season came 10 seconds in, and Sharp made it 2-0 at 1:42 with his 27th. Sharp and Marian Hossa added goals in the opening two minutes of the third period to put the game out of reach for Chicago, which improved to 6-1-1 in its last eight games. Jamie Benn ended Crawford's bid for his sixth career shutout with 5:50 remaining for his 22nd goal of the season. Kari Lehtonen stopped 27 shots for the Stars before a crowd of 19,099, the largest since the team moved to Dallas in 1993. The count was swelled by about 600 standing-room tickets and a loud contingent of Blackhawks fans. Dallas has dropped two straight following six consecutive wins. The Stars had an 11-game points streak (10-0-1) end with Wednesday night's 5-2 defeat in Winnipeg. They opened a four-game homestand that will go a long way toward determining their playoff fate. Pacific Division-leading Dallas remained stuck on 83 points, two ahead of second-place Phoenix, while Chicago improved to 86 points. If the season ended Friday, the third-seeded Stars would meet the sixth-seeded Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs. Crawford was making his first start since Feb. 29 when he was pulled after giving up three goals in 10 shots against Toronto. Ray Emery had been the starter for six games, but has been slowed by a recent illness, forcing the Blackhawks to recall rookie Carter Hutton from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL to back up Crawford. Crawford came in for Emery in Tuesday night's 4-3 shootout win over St. Louis after Emery gave up three goals. Crawford stopped all 18 shots he faced in regulation and overtime, then denied three Blues shooters in the tiebreaker. Lehtonen had been 8-0-1 with a 1.29 goals-against average and three shutouts in his previous nine starts, but he had a rough first two minutes, yielding goals on the first two shots he faced. Bolland won the opening faceoff, took a pass from linemate Andrew Shaw, and lifted a shot from the high slot that beat Lehtonen to the stick side for his 18th of the season. Bolland's goal hadn't even been announced to the crowd when Sharp gave his team a two-goal pad on a wrister from the left circle. Chicago dominated the first period with a 12-5 edge in shots. Bolland's goal was the fastest by an opponent in Stars franchise history, topping Rick Martin's tally for the Buffalo Sabres 11 seconds into a game against the Minnesota North Stars on Oct. 14, 1979. The fastest goal in Blackhawks history was registered by Brent Sutter 8 seconds into a game against Vancouver on Feb. 5, 1995. Hossa netted his 28th of the season 33 seconds into the final period on a shot that deflected off the stick of Dallas defenseman Adam Pardy and past Lehtonen. Sharp notched his second of the night at 1:45 of the third. Notes: Chicago C Patrick Kane was hit in the face with a shot by Dallas' Stephane Robidas midway through the second period. Kane was down on the ice for a few minutes, but skated to the bench and remained in the game. ... The teams closed out their season series, splitting the four games. ... C Jonathan Toews (concussion), D Steve Montador (concussion), LW Daniel Carcillo (leg) and D Sami Lepisto (leg) were out for Chicago. ... D Niklas Hjalmarsson had been questionable (upper body) but was in the lineup for the Blackhawks. ... D Sheldon Souray (lower body) and forward Radek Dvorak (ankle) missed the game for the Stars. ... The Stars warmed up in green jerseys in honor of St. Patrick's Day, then switched to their regular home black tops for the game.
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