One strong start did the trick.
Eaves scored three of Dallas’ four goals in the first period, and the Stars beat the Blackhawks 4-2 on Thursday night.
“It was just good to get a nice start. I think that was the biggest thing,” Eaves said. “We got spanked on Saturday, so that was still fresh in our mouth.”
Eaves’ second career hat trick helped Dallas to its fifth win in six games and moved the Stars within one of the Blackhawks for the most points in the Western Conference. Dallas’ lone loss during the strong stretch was a 5-1 rout for visiting Chicago on Saturday night.
“We were ourselves tonight,” said Tyler Seguin, who had two assists. “Obviously I think they handed it to us last game.”
John Klingberg added a goal and an assist for Dallas. Kari Lehtonen made 19 of his 44 saves in the third period, including a point-blank stop on Andrew Shaw with Chicago threatening to pull within one with about eight minutes left.
“I just think we’re playing honest hockey,” Lehtonen said. “You know, work hard and try to minimize the mistakes, especially in our own end and it’s been going good the last couple games.”
The Blackhawks played without forward Artemi Panarin for the second straight game due to an illness, and they clearly missed the rookie’s skills and creativity. The 24-year-old Panarin is second on the team with 34 assists and 52 points.
Duncan Keith‘s eighth goal of the season 32 seconds into the third stopped a scoreless streak of 123 minutes, 8 seconds for Chicago, which dropped to 4-5 since its franchise-record 12-game win streak. Patrick Kane added his 33rd goal, and Scott Darling made 14 saves in relief of Corey Crawford.
“The last two, we’ve been in a little bit of a funk,” Kane said. “We’ll work ourself out of it, just like we always do, and come back ready to play Saturday.”
The Blackhawks dominated much of the third, but their listless start was so bad that the biggest cheers from the sellout crowd through two periods were for Dallas forward Patrick Sharp and defenceman Johnny Oduya, who played their first regular-season game at the United Center since they helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in June.
An emotional Sharp raised his stick in appreciation and took a deep breath as the crowd roared following a video tribute to the winger in the first period of his 800th career game. Sharp, who had 239 goals and 272 assists in 10 seasons with the Blackhawks, was traded to Dallas in July to help alleviate a salary-cap crunch.
“That was very special,” Sharp said. “First class by a first-class organization.”
Oduya, who spent three-plus years in Chicago before signing with the Stars in free agency, also got a standing ovation following a first-period tribute and acknowledged the cheers with a wave.
Eaves entered with four goals in 34 games, but he put Dallas in front at 3:19 with a wicked shot over Crawford’s right shoulder. After Klingberg scored on a backhand that went off the right knee of Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson and through Crawford’s legs, Eaves tacked on a pair of power-play goals.
Seguin found a wide-open Eaves in front for a redirection past Crawford on the glove side at 16:26. He added a rebound goal off Seguin’s shot with 16 seconds left in the period.
“Certainly was a terrible, brutal, brutal first period,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We kind of stopped the bleeding in the second, and a good third, but they scored early.”
NOTES: Stars F Travis Moen left in the second period with a lower-body injury. “It looks like he could be out for a few days,” coach Lindy Ruff said. … Stars D Jason Demers was scratched due to an illness. … The Blackhawks will host the 2017 NHL draft. The league made the announcement before the game.