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Aftermath: Blackhawks 2, Penguins 1 OT

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Video: Game Highlights
Watch: Staal scores off set play
Postgame: Bylsma | Staal | Letestu
Postgame: Guerin | Gonchar
Photos: Blackhawks 2, Pens 1 (OT)
Audio: Crash The Net
Aftermath: Pens vs. Blackhawks
Blog: Pens vs. Hawks Game Blog
The Penguins played good enough to win against the Blackhawks. Unfortunately, Chicago netminder Antti Niemi played better. The Finnish goalie stopped 32 shots and was pivotal in Chicago’s 2-1 overtime victory.

Pittsburgh had the better of the play in the game and more quality scoring chances, but Niemi’s play stymied the Penguins’ attack and allowed Chicago to get out of Pittsburgh with two points.

Still, the Penguins hard work allowed them to steal a point in the standings with Jordan Staal’s late tally following a beautifully designed play by assistant coach Mike Yeo.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Kris Versteeg scored 2:38 into overtime and the Chicago Blackhawks snapped the Pittsburgh Penguins' five-game home winning streak with a 2-1 victory Saturday night.

Versteeg took a pass from Brian Campbell while standing in front of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and had his initial shot stopped. He got the rebound and knocked it past Fleury for his ninth goal. That lifted Chicago to its 10th win in 13 games (10-2-1).

The Penguins celebrate following Jordan Staal's late third-period tying goal.
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Perseverance
Despite coming so close to scoring on numerous occasions during the first 58 minutes of the game, the Penguins didn’t let their frustrations get the best of them. They continued to battle and create opportunities. Their efforts paid off when Jordan Staal tied the game up with 1:32 left in regulation.

What Could Have Gone Better: Solving Niemi
Even though the Penguins managed to score a late goal in the third period to the tie the game, the team was still frustrated throughout the contest by Chicago netminder Antti Niemi. Sergei Gonchar hit a post and just missed a shot towards an open net. Mark Letestu hit a post and Staal sent a rebound shot towards an empty net. If not for Niemi, the Penguins could have scored four or five goals.
Mark Letestu played the best game of his professional career, which is technically not saying much since he’s only played three total. Letestu arrived in Pittsburgh after being an emergency call up this afternoon with Sidney Crosby going down with a groin injury.

Letestu won the critical faceoff late in the third period that led to the Penguins’ game-tying goal and allowed Pittsburgh to steal a point in the standings. He also finished with a plus-1 rating, two hits, 13:52 minutes of ice time and won 56 percent of his faceoffs.
The Blackhawks drew first blood with a goal during a four-on-four situation. Brian Campbell threw a shot on net from the near circle. The puck hit goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and fluttered into the air on the opposite side. Former Penguin Marian Hossa settled the puck down before lifting it into the goal. Chicago 1, Pittsburgh 0.

With their goaltender out of the net, the Penguins tied the game late in the third period. Mark Letestu won a critical faceoff in offensive zone and pushed the puck back to Sergei Gonchar. Gonchar fed Evgeni Malkin at the point. Malkin blasted a slap shot on net that hit a body in front. Jordan Staal, who sneaked in from the backside, buried the loose puck into the goal. Pittsburgh 1, Chicago 1.

The Blackhawks claimed victory in the game with Kris Versteeg’s overtime-winning goal. Campbell threw the puck towards the front of the net, where Versteeg was positioned. Versteeg went backhand, forehand and deposited it into the net. Chicago 2, Pittsburgh 1.
Pittsburgh played the game without captain Sidney Crosby, who took the game off to let his injured groin rest. The Penguins were forced to recall forward Mark Letestu for the game and shuffled their line combinations to:

Max Talbot-Evgeni Malkin-Bill Guerin
Pascal Dupuis-Mark Letestu-Ruslan Fedotenko
Matt Cooke-Jordan Staal-Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp-Craig Adams-Eric Godard

The Penguins and Blackhawks do not play often, tonight was the only meeting between the teams this year, but the teams didn’t waste any time developing a healthy dislike of each other. It began with a couple of hard hits between Cooke and Duncan Keith that led to a post-whistle altercation. Then Rupp and Ben Eager exchanged cross checks that led to another scrum. In the third period, Malkin and Colin Fraser became entangled and wrestled. The two traded jabs and were sent to the penalty box.

The Penguins held their annual “Toys for Tots” toy drive at Mellon Arena on Thursday and Saturday night. Fans generously contributed toys and cash, all of which will be donated to the U.S. Marine Corps’ “Toys for Tots” Program for distribution to underprivileged families in the Pittsburgh area. In total 3,174 toys and $10,274 were collected.
> Pittsburgh dropped to 20-9-1 on the season with a 10-4-1 mark at Mellon Arena. The Penguins are unbeaten in their last six straight games at the Igloo (5-0-1).

> Scoring Summary:
CHI, M.Hossa (3), 7:37 1st period: Blackhawks 1, Penguins 0
PIT, J.Staal (8), 18:28 3rd period: Penguins 1, Blackhawks 1
CHI, K.Versteeg (9), 2:58 OT: Blackhawks 2, Penguins 1

> The Penguins are now 38-12-5 in the regular season since head coach Dan Bylsma took over. They have a record of 20-5-2 at Mellon Arena.

> The Penguins are 16-2-1 when registering 30 or more shots in a game this season.

> Evgeni Malkin posted an assist versus the Blackhawks. He has 15 points (4G-11A) in his last 11 games.

> Jordan Staal scored the Penguins’ only goal. He now has 11 points (4G-7A) in his last 11 games.

> Sergei Gonchar notched an assist in the game, giving him six points (1G-5A) in his last six games.
1. A.Niemi
2. K.Versteeg
3. M.Fleury
"(Evgeni Malkin) made a great shot and I had
a nice pass off the pads to me.”
- Jordan Staal


Author: Sam Kasan

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