Huet off his game in Blackhawks' loss to Stars
Antti Niemi found out Tuesday that the NHL can be an unfair place.
Despite playing well in relief of starter Cristobal Huet and keeping the Blackhawks in the game, Niemi took the loss when the only goal he allowed in almost two full periods turned out to be the game-winner.
Steve Ott's third-period, power-play goal gave the Dallas Stars a 5-4 win over the Hawks on a night Huet didn't have it. He was pulled by Hawks coach Joel Quenneville 1:32 into the second period after allowing 4 goals on just 10 shots.
"I had to do something," Quenneville said. "They were going in too easy. It was an easy call."
Huet fell trying to get across the crease on Mike Modano's goal in the first period and let Mike Ribero beat him on a stuff shot later in the period.
Loui Eriksson trickled one through Huet's pads 57 seconds into the second period to make it 3-3. Huet was gone 35 seconds later when Ott scored his first goal of the night on a shot that deflected in off Troy Brouwer.
It was only the second time all season in 39 games the Hawks allowed more than 4 goals. The Hawks led 3-2 after a dominating first period in which they outshot the Stars 21-8.
"We stuck with it and scored some opportunistic goals," Stars center Brad Richards said. "It was a big challenge. They're probably the best team in the league, the way they move the puck and the talent they have. It's a big win."
Brouwer, Patrick Kane and Colin Fraser scored for the Hawks in the opening 20 minutes, but Huet wasn't up to task at the other end.
The goals by Brouwer and Kane came on the power play, while Fraser's goal was his first of the season and first in his last 45 games dating to last season.
The two quick strikes by Dallas early in the second period gave the Stars a 4-3 lead they held until Kane got his second of the night and 17th of the season with four seconds left in the period.
Kane, named the league's second star of the week Monday, continued his torrid scoring pace. He now has 4 goals in the last two games and 7 in his last five.
The Stars regrouped in the second period after the Hawks had come at them in waves in the first.
Ott's tiebreaking goal early in the third came after Stars goalie Marty Turco stopped Marian Hossa on a short-handed breakaway.
"We had plenty of chances," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We were sharp. We just weren't as diligent defensively as we normally are."
Ott beat Niemi with a nice move to the net around defenseman Brent Sopel.
Hossa's miss on the breakaway was key.
The Hawks' big free-agent catch from last summer still hasn't shown his great goal scoring touch, now more than a month since his return from shoulder surgery. After getting 2 goals in his debut Nov. 25 at San Jose, Hossa has gone the last 16 games with just 4 goals.
Tim Sassone's game tracker
Stars 5, Blackhawks 4
1. Steve Ott, Stars: Two goals, including the game winner early in the third period.
2. Patrick Kane, Hawks: Two more goals, giving him 4 in two games and 7 in his last five.
3. Marty Turco, Stars: Under fire all night in goal, it could have been a Hawks blowout win if not for him.
Key stat: The Hawks are 0-2 against the Stars with Cristobal Huet playing poorly in both losses. In the 4-3 loss Oct. 17 in Chicago, Huet let Stephane Robidas' dump-in off the side glass sneak through him for the winning goal.
Have a seat: Hawks coach Joel Quenneville pulled his starting goalie for only the second time this season. He also pulled Huet on Oct. 12 against Calgary after 3 goals on 5 shots.