PITTSBURGH - The Blackhawks stormed out to a 2-0 lead in 98 seconds in the second period with goals from Dominik Kubalik and Patrick Kane, and Corey Crawford delivered a second straight strong performance with 29 saves on 31 shots, but the Penguins came back late and took the two points in a shootout at PPG Paints Arena, 3-2.
Here are three takeaways from the first meeting of the season with Pittsburgh:
Saturday's game was the sixth time Chicago has been to overtime in their 16 games this season. Upon completion of the 3-2 shootout loss, only three teams had been to the extra frame more times than the Blackhawks (St. Louis, Toronto and Washington).
"Especially when you're up 2-0, it would've been nice to come away with that game but they're a good team, they've been playing well all year," Patrick Kane said "Nice to get a point and hopefully keep building on what we've got going on here, but would've been nice to have two and obviously can go either way in 3-on-3 (overtime) and the shootout."
"I think the game was pretty even. We won a lot of 50-50 battles," Dominik Kubalik said. "I think we had some pretty good chances that we could finish it off, but it didn't go in. Then, in overtime I think it was 50-50 too and, you know, shootouts are - we score, they score two times."
It was the fourth time in five November games that the Blackhawks had come away with at least a point (six points in total), following an opposing five-game stretch with just one win and three total points.
"I thought we took a step. It's one of our better games," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We played in a tough rink and a tough opponent, but to really move it forward, the team needs to be rewarded for those efforts. We went through a stretch like that earlier in the year where we played really well and didn't get the win and it wears on you. We want to finish a few of these games out."
With his tally in the second period, Kane extended his point streak to five games and his eight points (3G, 5A) in that span nearly match his totals from the first 11 games of his season (3G, 6A).
"It's nice to produce, it's nice to have the puck out there, (but) I still think there's more to give, especially with our line," said Kane, who had the Blackhawks lone goal in the shootout for good measure. "We can be even better so we've got to keep building on that and finding ways if we're not scoring or don't have the puck on a shift to be good defensively and fight hard to get it back so we can play with it."
Kubalik's goal just 98 seconds before his was the only non-empty-net goal Kane had not played a roll in of the last six Chicago tallies going back to the 4-2 loss in San Jose on Tuesday.
It was a different game experience for Kirby Dach and Adam Boqvist for Saturday's shootout loss. The rookie duo were healthy scratches for the first time in their respective careers as Colliton opted for rest and review.
It's a tactic that Colliton has used frequently this season, rotating younger faces in and out of the lineup. Alex Nylander bounced back from a healthy scratch on Oct. 12 against Winnipeg with the game-winning goal in a 3-1 win over Edmonton two nights later. He's not a rookie, but Drake Caggiula had a similar bounce back with a goal against the Kings at the United Center on Oct. 27 after sitting out the previous day in Carolina.
"I think you do things for different reasons," Colliton explained. "Sometimes you're just trying to play your best lineup, sometimes individually you're trying to help the player to get back to (his) highest level and sometimes guys need a rest, they're banged up, whatever it may be. It kind of depends on circumstances."
Most recently, Kubalik had the night off in Thursday's win over Vancouver, returning in place of Dach in the lineup in Pittsburgh. He continued the trend of statement returns with a one-timer to open the scoring in the second period.
"We had a little meeting, some video where he showed my what I did before and what I didn't do the last couple games," Kubalik said. "I understand that … Obviously you want to play every game, right? So I was just trying to be ready and I was really excited to play again."
"I think that's probably the best response that I could do and obviously I was trying to make some plays to show up," Kubalik added. "I'm really happy that I scored, but it was just one point so I would be a little bit happier if we would've ended up with two points."
"He was good. I thought he responded well," Colliton said. "Wasn't really concerned about it, I expected that he would and hopefully he can build on it."