Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks to victory
Scores three goals against Penguins, Chicago gets fifth straight winby Brian Hedger / NHL.com Correspondent
CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored his second hat trick in three games, and Scott Darling made 36 saves to help the Chicago Blackhawks to their fifth straight win, 4-1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at United Center on Wednesday.
Kane got his first goal midway through the second period, and then scored two more late in the third, including into an empty net with 41 seconds remaining.
"I guess sometimes players get a little streaky," said Kane, who has seven goals in the past three games, 12 in the past 11. "I don't think I played my best game tonight, but at the same time, you get opportunities and chances, and you find ways to score goals."
WATCH: All Penguins vs. Blackhawks highlights
Rookie Nick Schmaltz had the primary assist on Kane's first two goals. He stripped the puck from Penguins forward Jake Guentzel on the backcheck and quickly spun to pass ahead to Kane to set up the first one, and then sent Kane a nice pass from the slot on the rush for the second.
Schmaltz replaced Artem Anisimov at center on the second line after Anisimov left the game with a lower-body injury early in the second period.
"The last four games he really elevated his game to a different level," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Schmaltz. "[He was] a big factor again tonight. Great to see him play like that."
Video: PIT@CHI: Kane beats Fleury with quick release on rush
Richard Panik also scored the Blackhawks (40-18-5), who are 10-1-0 in their past 11. Darling made seven saves in the first period, 16 in the second and 13 more in the third.
Chicago led 2-1 to start the third, but Pittsburgh had a couple great chances to tie it early in the period. Darling preserved the one-goal lead at 5:01 with a glove save on a one-timer by Matt Cullen from the low slot and made another glove save against Chris Kunitz with 9:36 left.
"We were right there all night long," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "Their goalie made a few real big saves in the third period. That save with Cullen right on the doorstep was a 10-bell save. We score there and it's a tie game, and it's anybody's game."
Scott Wilson scored for the Penguins (38-16-8), who were coming off a 3-2 loss at the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves.
The Blackhawks went up 1-0 on Kane's goal at 8:49 of the second period.
Wilson tied it 1-1 with three minutes left in the second on a backhand shot that beat Darling under the crossbar. It wasn't ruled a goal until video review showed the puck hit the back of the net.
Panik gave Chicago a 2-1 lead with 24 seconds left in the second, making a great move to get around Evgeni Malkin before shooting past Fleury from the slot.
Kane scored the next two goals. Schmaltz fed him for a one-timer at 16:52 to make it 3-1, and Kane scored the empty-net goal unassisted.
Video: PIT@CHI: Kane pots tough empty-netter for hat trick
Goal of the game
With help from defenseman Duncan Keith, Panik won the puck from Patric Hornqvist along the wall, and then toe-dragged around Malkin in the slot before beating Fleury with a hard wrist shot. "I just found out now it was [Malkin]," Panik said. "I just saw a Pittsburgh jersey and I didn't even know who it was. I just wanted to get by him."
Video: PIT@CHI: Panik dangles, finishes with top-shelf snipe
Saves of the game
Fleury made three quick saves to prevent the Blackhawks from taking a 2-0 lead in the second period. He deflected a wrist shot by Ryan Hartman at 14:42, dove along the goal line to stop Brent Seabrook's rebound attempt, and gloved the puck at the right post to deny Panik.
Video: PIT@CHI: Fleury sprawls for spectacular set of saves
Unsung performance of the game
In addition to his two assists, Schmaltz had three shots on goal, three takeaways and three blocked shots in 16:02.
Highlight of the game
Kane's second goal came after two great plays by Artemi Panarin and Schmaltz. Panarin stole the puck and got it to Schmaltz, who carried into the Pittsburgh zone and sent a backhand feed to Kane for the one-timer.
Video: PIT@CHI: Kane buries one-timer for his second goal
They said it
"The last couple of weeks have been a little stressful." -- Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who remained with Pittsburgh after the NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday
"He had the 'Wow' factor tonight. That was an amazing play. We don't want to advertise trying that play too often in the offensive zone, but he times that stuff and we see it in practice. In a game, it's hard to do. We don't encourage it, but he has confidence." -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Richard Panik's goal
Need to know
Kane scored three goals in a 6-3 win against the Arizona Coyotes last Thursday. He is the first Chicago player with two hat tricks in a three-game span since Brian Noonan did so in consecutive games Dec. 27 and 29, 1990. ... The Penguins on Wednesday acquired defenseman Mark Streit from the Tampa Bay Lightning and defenseman Frank Corrado from the Toronto Maple Leafs in separate trades. Pittsburgh sent forward Eric Fehr, defenseman Steve Oleksy and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft to the Maple Leafs, and a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft to the Lightning. … Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya arrived in Chicago but didn't play after being acquired in a trade from the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. … Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) missed his third straight game.
Penguins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports, ROOT, SUN, NHL.TV)
Blackhawks: Host the New York Islanders on Friday (8:30 p.m. ET; WGN, MSG+, NHL.TV)
Video: Kane's hat trick powers Blackhawks past Penguins, 4-1