Richards, Dallas sticks it to Blackhawks

If the planets had been aligned differently, Brad Richards could have been wearing a Blackhawks sweater Thursday night. With their current alignment, the center instead was playing for the Dallas Stars.

The high-scoring Richards, whom the Stars acquired Tuesday in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning after the Hawks had made a substantial offer for him, played out of this world to spark Dallas to a 7-4 victory before a crowd of 18,584 at American Airlines Center.

Richards had a career-high five assists, three on Niklas Hagman goals, as the Stars overpowered the Hawks to drop their record to 30-28-6 and keep them six points back in race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"Hopefully I didn't do too much, and expectations aren't too high," Richards said. "I know it's going to get harder. It was one of those nights guys were getting into the open. I'm just so happy to be a part of this."

Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon made a bid for Richards at the trade deadline, but the center had a no-trade clause and was able to select which team he would join.

"I didn't see the point of leaving my teammates in the middle of the season to go to a non-playoff team," Richards said. "No disrespect to Chicago. They have a good, up-and-coming team. It's tough to leave in the middle of the year with all your friends. If I was going to leave, I thought this was a great opportunity."

After Dustin Byfuglien put the Hawks ahead 1-0 with a first-period power-play goal off a rebound, the Stars reeled off five straight goals, including two by Hagman and one each by Mike Modano, Loui Eriksson and Trevor Daley. After Daley's goal at the 6-minute-34-second mark of the second period, Hawks coach Denis Savard replaced goaltender Patrick Lalime with rookie Corey Crawford.

"It was a couple of mistakes, and they capitalized on them," Lalime said. "When you make mistakes, especially against a good team, you're going to pay for it."

The Hawks' Rene Bourque cut the lead to 5-2 in the third period with his fourth short-handed goal of the season before Hagman completed his first career hat trick.

Newcomer Andrew Ladd scored his first goal in a Hawks uniform with a wrist shot from inside the right circle past Stars goalie Marty Turco to make it 6-3.

Havlat updateHawks winger Martin Havlat underwent tests on his injured left shoulder Thursday, and while the results aren't yet known, it appears again to be serious. He could be headed for surgery and, at the least, will miss a significant amount of time. It's the same shoulder Havlat injured during the first game of the season that caused him to miss the next 22 games.

Hawks players have lost 277 games to injuries this season.

One-timersThe Hawks recalled winger Kris Versteeg and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson from Rockford of the American Hockey League. It's the third time Versteeg has been with the Hawks this season. He has two goals and two assists. … Savard said starting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who has missed four games with back spasms, should skate Saturday. Defenseman Brent Sopel (hand) is expected to skate Friday, while Robert Lang (back) could return to the ice Monday. … Defenseman Andrei Zyuzin is day-to-day with a groin injury.

ckuc@tribune.com

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