Stars looking for more from young goalie vs. Blackhawks

NHL Hockey

Jake Oettinger has another chance to begin proving he’s the goalie of the future for the Dallas Stars and could help them end a five-game losing streak when they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.

The Stars had four goalies on their roster at the start of this month, but last weekend Ben Bishop retired from his 11-year career after failing to fully recover from knee surgery 14 months ago.

On Monday, the Stars placed 35-year-old Anton Khudobin on waivers after he posted an .873 save percentage and 3.73 goals-against average through his first seven appearances.

Khudobin was sent down to the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League after he went unclaimed, leaving the 23-year-old Oettinger and the 32-year-old Braden Holtby as the remaining goalies in Dallas.

Holtby started on Friday night and made 30 saves in a 4-1 loss at the St. Louis Blues. Following a three-game winning streak in which he allowed four goals, Holtby has lost three in a row while surrendering 10 goals.

Oettinger, a first-round NHL Draft pick by the Stars in 2017, didn’t allow more than two goals in his first six starts this season and owned a .951 save percentage through his seven appearances. He started against the visiting Blues on Tuesday, the day after Khudobin was placed on waivers, and wasn’t as sharp, surrendering four goals on 29 shots in another 4-1 loss.

There’s plenty of pressure on Holtby and Oettinger to continue to play well, as Stars coach Rick Bowness hasn’t ruled out bringing back Khudobin at some point.

Khudobin played his first game in four weeks on Friday night and made 29 saves for Texas in a 3-1 loss to Rockford.

“We haven’t closed the door on that,” Bowness said of Khudobin’s return. “We’re trying to get him playing and get him back on top of his game.”

The Blackhawks also played Friday night, hosting the Nashville Predators, who had eight players and their entire coaching staff in COVD-19 protocol, but couldn’t take advantage and lost 3-2 in overtime.

Chicago forward Patrick Kane was hit in the face with the puck in overtime, forcing him to the bench just before the Predators scored the winning goal.

“It was just one of those games where things weren’t clicking for us,” Chicago coach Derek King said.

After starting the season 0-7-2, the Blackhawks have leveled out, alternating wins and losses for the past 14 games.

The hottest player for the Blackhawks has been forward Jonathan Toews, who has a goal in three of his past four games after not scoring in his first 25.

The Stars welcomed back forward Roope Hintz on Friday night. Hintz, who leads the Stars with 11 goals, missed the previous two games with a non-COVID-19 illness.

The Stars also added left wing Riley Tufte and defenseman Thomas Harley, who were recalled from Texas on Friday and in the lineup against St. Louis.

Tufte played in his third NHL game on Friday, and Harley played in his fifth.

–Field Level Media

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