The Chicago Blackhawks are starting to earn better results on the road after struggling at the beginning of the season. They’ll try to carry that improved play into Dallas, where they’ve won once in the last seven years.
Chicago continues a six-game trip Thursday when it meets the last-place Stars.
The Blackhawks (8-4-5) lost their first four road games of the season - three in regulation - before defeating Columbus 4-3 in a shootout on Nov. 1. Chicago played five straight at home following that win before opening this trip with another shootout victory, 3-2 over Phoenix on Tuesday.
Nikolai Khabibulin made 36 saves through overtime and stopped two shots in the shootout for Chicago, which is on this extended trip because the circus is at the United Center.
“It was nice to start the road trip with a win,” said Khabibulin, who improved to 5-1-4 with a 2.33 goals-against average. “Any time you can start a long road trip with a win, that’s a good thing.”
“It’s good for us to get out on the road,” said Sharp, who leads the team with 10 goals. “We like playing at the United Center, but it’s good to be around each other quite a bit and build some chemistry.”
The Blackhawks now look to win three straight on the road for just the third time in the last four seasons. They did it Nov. 10-19, 2005, and last Jan. 13-19.
To accomplish that feat, Chicago must earn a rare victory in Dallas. The Blackhawks are 1-8-2 with a tie there since the start of the 2001-02 season.
The Stars (6-8-3), though, are last in the Pacific Division and have only one more point than St. Louis for the fewest in the Western Conference. Dallas did end a three-game skid Saturday, winning 3-2 at Phoenix for just its second victory in seven games (2-4-1).
“It’s good for the confidence to get this win,” Ribeiro said. “We played much better defense and when you focus on defense, you have a better chance to win.”
Even though the Stars haven’t been winning much, their defense has improved. They allowed an average of 4.17 goals over the first 12 games, but have given up 2.40 per game over the last five.
“This is the kind of effort from which we can build,” captain Mike Modano said. “We’re noted for playing good defense and, if you’re playing that game at its peak, we’re a tough team to beat.”
The 36-year-old Sydor played with the Stars from 1995-2003, winning the Stanley Cup with them during the 1998-99 season. He appeared in eight games with the Penguins this season, registering one goal and one assist.
“I didn’t want to go out the way so many old guys have, not that I consider myself an old guy - I’m only 36,” he said. “It was a matter of numbers here. It was a matter of young guys playing well. I wanted to extend my career, and that wasn’t going to happen here.”