Phenomenal Fleury leads Blackhawks to shootout win over Pittsburgh

  

Playing in their second game under Interim Head Coach Derek King, the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins at United Center on Tuesday in a rematch from the first weekend of the season. The Blackhawks were looking to put together their first winning streak of the season by avenging their 5–2 loss in Pittsburgh last month. Hoping for a better start than the last time he saw his former team, the Hawks started Marc-Andre Fleury against Tristan Jarry.

First period

The game remained scoreless after one with both teams generating some quality scoring chances. The Hawks received two power play opportunities where they looked sharp moving the puck, but had nothing to show for it, while the penalty kill successfully stymied the Penguins’ only man advantage. For the period, the Blackhawks outshot the Penguins 14–11.

Second period

At the 2:14 mark, Jujhar Khaira scored his first goal as a Blackhawk. Off a face-off win, Jonathan Toews outworked Jeff Carter behind the Pittsburgh net then fed a wide-open Khaira with a goal-mouth pass to give the Hawks a 1–0 lead.

With 4:07 remaining, the Hawks took a 2–0 lead when Seth Jones scored his first as a Blackhawk. The Hawks had the Penguins pinned in their own zone for nearly a minute when Patrick Kane skated the blue line and found Jones, who sniped one top shelf from the face-off dot to the left of Jarry, who was screened by Kirby Dach. The assist for Kane was career point No. 1,100.

For the period, the Blackhawks outshot the Penguins 12–11 for a 26–22 advantage for the game.

Third period

The Penguins came out of the dressing room and controlled the tempo from the opening draw. At 5:34, the Penguins cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 2–1 on a goal by Carter, who won a face-off and deflected in a Jake Guentzel shot from the top of the left circle. Carter was able to get inside positioning on Jones to tip the puck between Fleury’s pads for his second of the season.

Late in the third, Jarry stopped Mike Hardman on a breakaway to keep the Penguins within a goal. The Penguins went the other way and Carter scored his second of the period and third of the season, again from Guentzel, to tie it at 2–2. The Penguins nearly won it in regulation at the horn when Bryan Rust airmailed a rebound off of Fleury’s glove.

In the third, Pittsburgh had a significant edge in shots on goal, 20–5, and finished regulation with a 42–31 advantage.

Overtime and shootout

As expected, the action was wide open, with Kane getting two grade-A chances to win it. Kane and Alex DeBrincat skated in on a 2-on-0 and Kane hit the post. In the closing seconds, Kane skated in alone and shot a potential buzzer-beater wide.

In the shootout, Toews, the Hawks’ usual leadoff man, went forehand backhand and buried it between Jarry’s legs to take the early 1–0 shootout lead.

Fleury then stopped his former teammate Guentzel to keep the Hawks in the lead.

Kane could not double the lead, as he was stopped when he slowed up and tried to go to Jarry’s glove side.

Kris Letang skated in to the right of Fleury and tried to go five hole but was denied.

DeBrincat then closed it out with a wrister to the high glove side that hit the cross bar and went in to give the Hawks the extra point and their first winning streak of the season.

Analysis: The good, the bad, the ugly

The good

Marc-Andre Fleury: The future Hockey Hall of Famer played arguably his best game as a Blackhawk, stopping a season-high 42 shots plus two more in the shootout. The motivation was certainly there after Fleury was benched when the two teams faced each other in Pittsburgh.

Calvin de Haan: I know Jones gets most of the praise and criticism as the team’s top defenseman, but let’s give some well-deserved love to de Haan. He played over 18 minutes and was a factor defensively with four blocked shots and three hits. He certainly had some jump in his step and perhaps the coaching change has re-energized him.

The bad

Holding leads: Once again, the Hawks blew a two-goal lead, but more important, this team needs to find a way to bury teams and finish games in regulation versus relying on the gimmicky overtime and shootout. Certainly the positive you can take from this is both goals were scored 5-on-5 on a night their power play was silenced.

The ugly

Erik Gustafsson: The end may be near for “Gus,” who played just over eight minutes, as the team is beginning to get healthy on the back end. Caleb Jones and Wyatt Kalynuk have returned to practice, with the latter being activated from long-term injured reserve on Tuesday.

The game was certainly entertaining and not nearly the eyesore we saw multiple times during the month of October. The Blackhawks continued to play with renewed energy and much looser under King and will look to stretch their winning streak to three this Friday at the United Center against the division-rival Arizona Coyotes. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. CST and will be televised exclusively on ESPN+ and HULU with the radio broadcast on WGN 720.

Center Ice Forums Phenomenal Fleury leads Blackhawks to shootout win over Pittsburgh

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