DALLAS -- Antti Raanta led the Chicago Blackhawks onto the ice for pregame warm-ups Tuesday night in Dallas and a short time later Kent Simpson emerged through the tunnel.
With starter Corey Crawford sidelined two to three weeks with what a source said is a groin injury, the rookies now are the defending Stanley Cup champions' goaltending options for possibly the next 10 games -- or more.
Raanta, who had all of three NHL starts under his belt entering Tuesday night's game against the Stars at American Airlines Center, has gone from manning the crease in Rockford to the Hawks' backup job to No. 1 netminder in three weeks.
"Usually in hockey everything happens pretty fast," said Raanta, who was recalled from the IceHogs on Nov. 17 after veteran Nikolai Khabibulin suffered a lower-body injury that still has him off the ice. "If somebody gets hurt or something, you get your chance.
"Of course now it's up to me. I'll just try to do my best. It's pretty weird to think one month ago I was still in Rockford and now I'm here and (the Hawks are) putting me in the net."
In his first game as the No. 1 man in the crease, Raanta earned the victory as the Finnish goalie was aided by an offensive explosion during the Hawks' 6-2 shellacking of the Stars before a crowd of 12,542.
Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad each had two goals, Patrick Kane a goal and two assists and Michael Kostka a goal and an assist to lead the way. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook each added two assists as the Hawks won their second game in a row to improve to 22-6-5 on the season.
"It's really not something we're thinking about with Antti in there," Sharp said. "We know he's going to make the saves when we need him to. It's nice that we could score some goals for him but it's really not a focus, we're just playing hockey."
Raanta wasn't tested often as he made 27 saves while allowing only two Antoine Roussel scored after the game effectively had been decided. Kari Lehtonen started for the Stars but didn't make it out of the second and as Dan Ellis replaced him after the Hawks had piled up four goals on 19 shots against Dallas' No. 1 goalie.
"We did a lot of good things," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had pucks and bodies and quickness and transition and finish. It was an across-the-board contribution so it was a very good night."
For the second consecutive game, the Hawks' beleaguered penalty kill threw a shutout, halting all five Stars power-play opportunities.
"The guys stayed with it doing the right things," Quenneville said. "We'll say baby steps but hopefully we get some confidence off it and trend the other way."
Simpson, a second-round pick (58th overall) in the 2010 NHL draft, was recalled Monday and will serve as Raanta's backup until either Crawford or Khabibulin returns.
"What you work all summer and your whole life for is to get this opportunity to show you can play at this level," Simpson said.
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