Stars at Blackhawks
7:30 p.m. Thursday, United Center, Chicago
TV: FSSW Plus
Radio: KTCK/1310 AM and 96.7 FM
Records: Stars 29-33-10, 68 points; Blackhawks 47-20-6, 100 pts.
About the Stars: There is a bumpy finishing stretch ahead in an already rugged season for Dallas and it starts Thursday in Chicago. In their final 10 games, the Stars meet five teams already in playoff position. After tallying 109 points last season, this year teeters on becoming the third time since coming to Dallas in 1993 that the Stars have had a 40-plus point drop from the previous season. The other two were more understandable, coming in the strike-shortened seasons of 1994-95 and 2012-13. Fortunately, their most recent game, a 1-0 win over playoff-bound San Jose on Monday, was one of the Stars’ best. Kari Lehtonen stopped 30 shots in his second shutout of the season. Unfortunately, Lehtonen is 0-2-1 in three starts against Chicago this season, allowing 11 goals in those games. In their last five games, top scorers Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, with a combined 131 points, have accounted for a single goal and no assists.
About the Blackhawks: Since the start of February, the Blackhawks have gone 17-3-1, including Tuesday’s 5-4 overtime loss to Vancouver. Chicago has reached the 100-point mark for the fourth consecutive season and the seventh time in nine years. But this time they are leading the Western Conference, something they haven’t done since the 48-game 2012-13 season (when they also led the NHL in points, with 77). Goalie Corey Crawford comes in with a 29-15-3 mark and a 2.54 goals-against average, despite allowing four goals on 10 shots to Vancouver. Another goalie in uniform for Chicago on Thursday will be someone very familiar to the Stars. Hall of Famer Ed Belfour, who started his career with eight seasons in Chicago and later played five years in Dallas, will suit up and join the team on ice for the national anthem as part of the Blackhawks’ “One More Shift” series honoring Blackhawks stars of the past.