Assistant coach Rick Tocchet gives his three impressions from the bench of the Penguins’ 2-1 shootout loss against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.
1. I thought we played an overall team game. We used the bench and everybody contributed in some way.
2. Our patience, we kept our system. Even though it was 1-0 in their building, we continued to play the same way. To me, the whole game was the patience we played with.
3. That was a big goal by Spaling, and the play of that Sutter and Bennett line.
Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box.
1. Power Split
The Pens, looking for a spark in their power play, split up the top unit, opting to have two units play. The new units are: 1) Kunitz-Crosby-Perron-Letang-Pouliot, 2) Comeau-Malkin-Hornqvist-Martin-Despres. The power play won’t be as top loaded, but it does add balance to a prolonged overall attack.
“I really like the look of it,” head coach Mike Johnston said after the game. “It gives us two dynamic units, some competition. I thought Pouliot and Letang on the back ends were good for both units. It gives us a different dynamic. You have to build some of those things in your repertoire as you head down the stretch.”
2. Beau Knows
Beau Bennett has found himself in and out of the lineup recently. But if he plays the way he did this afternoon, he’ll have a permanent spot from now on. Bennett played one of his best, if not his best, game in the NHL. He showed grit and battle, something the coaching staff has asked of him. And Bennett was making plays. He finished with a career-high nine shots on goal and almost single-handedly got the Pens’ first goal. He battled through a stick check to get a shot; Nick Spaling finished the play with a rebound tally. In a game full of stars, it was Bennett that shined brightest.
The Blackhawks entered today with a 17-0-0 record when leading after two periods. Even though Chicago only had a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes, it is still a team that knows how to play with a lead. The Pens kept battling and were rewarded with the game-tying goal that forced overtime. Even though the Blackhawks still won in the shootout, the Pens salvaged an important point and went blow-for-blow with Chicago. They stuck with their system and were rewarded.