The Blackhawks came into the game riding a nine game winning streak against the Pittsburgh Penguins including a 6-3 victory less than a month ago. Even with that recent success, the Penguins are one of the hottest teams in the league. They have won eight straight and Captain Sidney Crosby is on a five game multi-point streak.
Patric Hornqvist opened the scoring early for the Penguins just 2:43 into the first to make it 1-0 Penguins. Dominik Simon grab a loose puck along the boards, got it down low to Evgeni Malkin who found him wide open in the right circle for a clear shot over Cam Ward stick side.
Less than two minutes later Jake Guentzel put in a rebound off of a Kris Letang shot from the point. The Blackhawks went down 2-0 less than five minutes into the game. Both goals came off of quality cycling around the boards by the Penguins.
Action was fast-paced with the Penguins making good entries and taking the puck into the offensive zone. The Blackhawks weren’t able to carry the puck in much and were playing more of a dump and chase game until Malkin was called for hooking new Blackhawk Drake Caggiula at 16:02.
Only :20 later Alex Debrincat finished off a Patrick Kane pass for a one-time power play goal at 16:23. Debrincat’s 19th goal of the season cut the Penguins lead in half to make the score 2-1.
Connor Murphy was called for cross checking Bryan Rust at 17:03 and then :49 later Duncan Keith was called for slashing Malkin. The Blackhawks were able to stop the 5 on 3 for over a minute as well as kill the second penalty. This was a large feat against the NHL’s fourth best power play unit to end the first period.
The second period started out like much of the first period went with the Penguins controlling pace of play and the shots advantage. It went this way for a little more than the beginning quarter of the period.
It changed quickly when Carl Dahlstrom found Marcus Kruger up the left boards. He was able to find a streaking Chris Kunitz streaking up the slot who snuck a shot over Casey DeSmith’s glove hand to tie the game at 2.
From there both teams picked up the pace with the Blackhawks closing the gap in the shots department and showing some fire. There were quality scoring chances by both teams.
Derick Brassard came through first after the flurry to take back the league for the Penguins. He sniped home a one knee one-timer with a perfect pass from Phil Kessel at 9:49.
At 14:57 Tanner Pearson tripped Murphy to send the Blackhawks to their second power play of the night. They did not covert on the power play but Keith fired home a slap shot just :02 after the penalty expired to tie the game at 3.
Letang was called for tripping David Kampf with just :19 in the period. The Blackhawks were unable to covert before the period ended up would still have 1:41 left on the power play in the third.
The Blackhawks were unable to convert on the power play but it ended up much like the previous one. Just :07 after the power play expired Dylan Strome was able to find the open side of the net from a sprawling DeSmith to make it 4-3 Blackhawks. He was assisted by Kane with his third assist of the night.
Brendan Perlini was called on a delayed penalty for hooking Sidney Crosby. Crosby was able to find Guentzel cross-ice but he whiffed on the one-timer. The Blackhawks went to the kill at 8:02 and were subsequently able to kill it successfully without giving up any quality chances.
It sounds redundant but the pace of this game continued to be off the charts. The action was back and forth from the previous penalty right up until the 19:05 mark when Jonathan Toews put the nail in the Penguins coffin. He sealed the game with an empty net goal to make it 5-3 Blackhawks.
This was a game of two halves for the Blackhawks. The first half was reminiscent of the beginning of the Jeremy Colliton era with a slow start but the second was quite different. They played with high energy.
Though they only had one power play goal officially it was more like three. Two of the their other goals came within 10 seconds of power plays expiring.
Kane tallied three assists, Debrincat and Toews each had a goal. They’re the top three scorers on the team and it is almost a requirement for them to be on the board for the Blackhawks to win.
This was the tenth straight victory against the Penguins dating back to 2014.
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