Blackhawks honor Ed Belfour, beat Stars in OT

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Former Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Ed Belfour waves to fans before the Dallas Stars play against the Chicago Blackhawks in an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 23, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

by Scott King

The Eagle Lands Again

Prior to Thursday night’s puck drop vs. the Dallas Stars, former Blackhawk and Star goaltender Ed Belfour took the ice in front of a roaring United Center ovation for One More Shift, a Blackhawks alumni-honoring initiative. Belfour started his career in Chicago during the 1988-1989 season. He led the Blackhawks to the 1991-1992 Stanley Cup Final when Chicago fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games.

Belfour played with the Stars from 1997-2002. Winning a Stanley Cup with the organization in 1999.

“It’s a great honor to be here,” Belfour said prior to the big moment. “It’s always emotional coming back to Chicago. [I] had a lot of great times here. Got my start here.”

Belfour credited Blackhawks fans for their support and also for creating a special part of his hockey identity.

“The fans were always fantastic for me here in Chicago. I’ll never forget the ‘Eddie, ‘Eddie chant. They’re the ones that started it. Much appreciated and I think they’re some of the best fans in the world of course.”

The former netminder didn’t hold back on what it meant for him to be a Hawk.

“I got to play for my favorite team, the Chicago Blackhawks.

“Growing up as a kid, I always wanted to be a Chicago Blackhawk. Tony Esposito was my favorite goalie and Bobby Hull, my favorite player, Stan Mikita… So coming here to play at Chicago Stadium was a dream come true and I got to play in front of some really good players and play with them… And going to the Stanley Cup Finals was awesome to do in my first couple years. Unfortunately we didn’t win.

“That’s probably my biggest regret is we didn’t play that well in the finals, it still haunts me some days, but that kind of stuff happens when you’re a younger player and you learn from it and get better. That’s what I tried to do.”

Belfour also gave credit to goaltenders Corey Crawford and Scott Darling for the way they’ve played with Chicago. Like many, Eddie believes Crawford’s contributions often fly under the radar.

“Of course that can happen when you play with the type of players that are playing here in Chicago, the legends to-be and hall of famers. He does a fantastic job, I’ve had a chance to watch him quite a bit. I think he’s definitely underrated.”

The Eagle was also happy to hear Darling was a fan of his growing up in Lemont, Illinois. “He’s an awesome goalie and I enjoy watching him.”

“It was great,” said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville of Belfour’s Hawks reunion. “The building was great. Great reception. Eddie was well-received. Looked great. I think it was a great moment for everybody. Dallas has good memories with him as well. It was good to see him out there, and I think everybody enjoyed seeing him back out there, and nice to hear the ‘Eddie chants.”

“I remember growing up Eddie was one of my favorite goalies,” said Hossa. I remember his mask. When I was a little kid I thought it was the best mask in the NHL. The Eagle. It was just fun to be on the ice at the same time as a legend. It’s great what the organization is doing [for] these special players.”

The Game

Patrick Kane scored on the first power play of the game at 8:13 in the first period. It was his 33rd goal this season. Richard Panik and Jonathan Toews were credited with assists on the play.

Panik picked up his 20th assist and 40th point of the season on the tally. Toews secured a six-game point streak on the goal as well.

The Stars answered back in the second period shortly after Ryan Hartman and Dan Hamhuis dropped the gloves. Ales Hemsky was the goal-scorer.

Marian Hossa scored at 8:37 in the third period to put the Hawks ahead 2-1. Alex Hemsky scored again later in the third to even things up 2-2 and the game would see overtime.

“It seems like we have a tendency [where] we don’t play our complete game,” said Marian Hossa of the Hawks letting Dallas back in the game. “The good thing is we find a way to win which is important too. But we have to put a full 60 minutes together.”

Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin scored in the shootout and Corey Crawford stopped two of three Stars shooters for the full two points. “Us as players are always trying to think of new things to keep it fresh,” Kane said of shootout moves.

“If something’s working, you probably stick to what’s working. You’ve seen Breadman (Artemi Panarin) come down that left side four or five times this year and he’s doing different moves, but he’s pretty much got the same setup where he’s coming down that left side. It depends, if things are working you stick to it, if not, it might be time to kind of freshen it up a little bit.”

Doesn’t That Hurt?

Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson set a new career high in blocked shots Thursday night with 167.

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