Stars open eight-game homestand vs. Blackhawks

NHL Hockey

Buoyed by sparkling special teams, the Chicago Blackhawks enter Sunday’s road game against the Dallas Stars with points in eight of their past nine games.

Chicago struck for three more power-play goals in Thursday’s 6-4 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, improving its conversion percentage for the season to a healthy 37.8 percent (14 of 37).

The Blackhawks’ No. 2 power-play unit was responsible for two of those scores at it does some friendly jostling with its No. 1 counterpart.

“Anytime you can have both units going, it just makes it so much easier,” Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat said. “(The) pressure’s not all on one unit, and that other unit’s been scoring goals like crazy and making it easy on us. It’s awesome to have both going.”

Although the Blackhawks are a mere 4-1-4 in their past nine games, simply remaining competitive with such a young core has impressed the entire roster. That includes veteran Patrick Kane, who collected four points Thursday for the 14th four-point game of his career.

“We’ve been pretty much in every game and battling, hanging around, whether it’s (with) good goaltending or timely scoring,” Kane said. “Now it’s like, ‘OK, we’re in these games, now let’s figure out how to win them.’ (Thursday) was a great example.”

After building a 3-1 lead after one period on the strength of three power-play goals, the Blackhawks didn’t squirm when Carolina rallied to tie the game at 4-4.

“I don’t think we’re a team that’s going to beat other teams by skill,” DeBrincat said, “but we’ve been playing the right way, working hard, buying into the system and it’s been working out well.”

On the heels of a 1-2-1 road trip that concluded with Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Stars hope to regroup as Saturday kicks off an eight-game homestand.

“We get to go home, we get to play in front of our fans,” forward Blake Comeau said. “It’s going to be a big homestand, and an important one. You’ve got to take advantage when you’re playing at home. I think we’re all comfortable there, and if we can have a good homestand, we’re going to set ourselves up in a good spot.”

The Stars will be without goaltender Anton Khudobin, who yielded four goals on 25 shots Thursday as Dallas missed out on a chance to sweep the Blue Jackets after topping them 6-3 on Tuesday. Khudobin will be scratched due to unspecified team discipline, coach Rick Bowness said Saturday.

“We’re a family and we’ll deal with things internally,” Bowness said. “But you deal with things by communicating and making your feelings known on what is and what isn’t acceptable.”

Jake Oettinger (2-0-0, 2.42 goals-against average) will start. Landon Bow will be the backup goalie.

Dallas’ Alexander Radulov has eight points in his past five games, including seven assists, and 11 points in eight games this season. Joe Pavelski has four goals in his past five games.

Although rookie center Ty Dellandrea was a healthy scratch for the second time Thursday, Bowness said he is set to play Saturday.

–Field Level Media

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