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Aftermath: Penguins 5, Blackhawks 4 OT

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
   
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QUICK ANALYSIS
 
Pittsburgh is off to a great start on its five-game road trip with an overtime victory over a tough Chicago Blackhawks team. The Penguins went toe-to-toe with Chicago through the first two periods and carried a 4-2 lead into the final frame. The Blackhawks shelled Pittsburgh in the third period, outshooting the Penguins by a 20-4 mark, and tied the game.

Even though Chicago scored twice to even the game in the third period, Marc-Andre Fleury played phenomenal under fire to keep the Penguins in the game. The Penguins power play struck in overtime to net two big points for Pittsburgh. Evgeni Malkin was scoreless in regulation but he stepped up for Pittsburgh in overtime. He drilled the game-winning one-timer to give Pittsburgh it’s fourth win in five contests.

The Penguins remain in 10th place in the Eastern Conference but the win pulls them within two points of the eighth through sixth seed. Pittsburgh has done a great job under interim head coach Dan Bylsma and is threatening to break back into the postseason picture.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
 
(AP) - NHL points leader Evgeni Malkin scored on a power play at 1:36 of overtime to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night.

Malkin ripped a one-timer from the right circle past rookie Antti Niemi after taking a pass from Sergei Gonchar. Malkin connected with 2 seconds left on a penalty to Chicago's Kris Versteeg.
 
PLAYOFF CHASE
 
Pos. Team              GP   Record    Pts
4.     Philadelphia   60   33-17-10  76
5.     Montreal          62   33-22-7    73
6.     Florida             61   31-22-8    70
7.     NY Rangers   63   31-24-8    70
8.     Buffalo             62   31-24-7    70
9.     Carolina          63   32-26-5    69
10.   Pittsburgh      63   31-26-6    68

Team Notables:
Philadelphia: Fell to Montreal, 4-3, in OT
NY Rangers: Off-day: Host Colorado Saturday at 7 p.m.
Montreal: Defeated Philadelphia, 4-3, in OT
Florida: Off-day: Travel to New Jersey Saturday at 1 p.m.
Buffalo: Off-day: Travel to NY Islanders Saturday at 7 p.m.
Carolina: Off-day: Travel to Atlanta Saturday at 7 p.m.
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

Eric Godard runs over Dustin Byfuglien (photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
 
What Worked Well: Scoring Depth
The Penguins played the game without Sidney Crosby, the No. 2 scoring leader in the NHL. Evgeni Malkin was held scoreless until his overtime winner. The rest of the team needed to step up in their captain’s absence to carry the scoring load. Pittsburgh wasn’t fazed. It collected four goals from three lines to force an extra period and eventually pulled off the victory.

What Could Have Gone Better: Penalty Killing
The Penguins took seven penalties in the game, too many opportunities to give a team as talented as Chicago. The Blackhawks converted four man-advantage scores, including two in the third period to overcome a 4-2 deficit. The Penguins penalty killers had been very effective since interim head coach Dan Bylsma arrived with a new style. The team will have to forget this game and concentrate on the progress they’ve made with their new approach. 
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Marc-Andre Fleury was under heavy enemy fire in the third period. The Blackhawks took 20 shots in the third period, 45 in the game, and dominated the third period. Chicago did score two goals in the third to tie the game, but Fleury made a few incredible saves in the ambush to keep the Penguins in the game.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jordan Staal played one of his most inspired games this season. He was all over the ice, diving to keep a puck in the attacking zone, creating a couple of goals and killing penalties. Staal put on a show in the first period, skating hard, stick handling and using his body to protect the puck. He figured in on the game’s first two goals (tallying a goal and an assist). He also had four shots, 21:44 minutes of ice time and a plus-3 rating.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
 
Jordan Staal snapped a 13-game goal-less streak with a rebound score early in the first period. Staal carried the puck into the Blackhawks zone and dropped to Sergei Gonchar above the near circle. Gonchar sent a slap shot on net that Cristobal Huet blocked but the rebound fell in front of him. Staal made an impressive shot to roof the puck into the net from a tough angle. Pittsburgh 1, Chicago 0.

Chris Kunitz scored his first goal for Pittsburgh in his first game as a Penguin. Some great offensive zone cycling led to a Staal one-timer from the far dot. The puck sailed wide, bounced off the backboards and came right to Kunitz along the goal line. Kunitz collected the puck on his forehand, quickly spun to his backhand and slid the puck through Huet’s pads. Pittsburgh 2, Chicago 0.

Chicago tallied a power-play goal to cut into the Penguins’ lead. Jonathan Toews won a faceoff in the Pittsburgh zone and then drifted towards the front of the net. Cam Barker unleashed a slap shot towards the net that Toews re-directed over the shoulder of Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh 2, Chicago 1.

Toews tallied another power-play goal in the second period to tie the game. Toews had the puck along the goal line and tried to make a cross-crease pass. Rob Scuderi dove in the passing lane to block the pass and Fleury slid off the post and across the crease in anticipation of a one-timer. Unfortunately, Toews fanned on the pass and the puck deflected off of Scuderi and into the goal. Pittsburgh 2, Chicago 2.

The Penguins used a turnover behind the Blackhawks net to retake the lead with 1:36 left in the second period. A Penguins’ power play just expired as Mark Eaton dumped the puck into the Chicago zone. Three Hawks played the puck behind their goal but Ruslan Fedotenko intercepted an errant pass and sent a quick shot on goal from the far goal line. Huet kicked out the rebound right to Miroslav Satan, who was all alone in front. Satan buried the puck while the Blackhawks scrambled to recover. Pittsburgh 3, Chicago 2.

The Penguins netted a goal with 59 seconds left in the second period to up their advantage. Pascal Dupuis did a great job of skating and cycling in the Chicago zone. He skated around the far circle and banked a pass to Maxime Talbot behind the net. Talbot collected the puck by the goal line and threw the puck towards the crease. The puck caromed off of Cam Barker’s skate and sneaked through Huet’s legs. Pittsburgh 4, Chicago 2.

Toews thought he scored his first career hat trick in the second period until a video review ruled that he scored with a high stick. But he wouldn’t be denied the hat trick. Toews netted his third goal of the game (and third power-play goal) early in the third period. Barker wound up for what appeared to be a slap shot from the far point but sent a shot-pass to Toews along the near goal line. Fleury, anticipating a shot, dropped into the butterfly. Fleury threw his body in Toews' direction but the 20-year-old stud settled the puck, and notched his third goal. Chicago fans showered the ice with "Blackhawks" hard hats that were given away at the game. Pittsburgh 4, Chicago 3.

Chicago tied the game with its fourth power-play goal of the game. Fleury moved to his left to make a save on Martin Havlat. The rebounded bounced to Andrew Ladd, who threw a cross-ice pass to Dave Bolland on the other side of the crease. Bolland made an incredible backhand shot from a harsh angle to even the score. Pittsburgh 4, Chicago 4.

Evgeni Malkin went scoreless for the first 61:36 of the game. However, he refused to be shutout. Malkin saved his best for last, drawing a penalty in the final minute of regulation and then nailing the game-winning goal in overtime. Gonchar corralled the puck at the midpoint and passed it to Malkin, who was stationed in the near faceoff dot. Malkin blasted a one-timer into the net for the W. Pittsburgh 5, Chicago 4.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
The Penguins played without captain Sidney Crosby for the second consecutive game due to a groin injury. He has missed three games this season due to injury. Recently acquired forward Chris Kunitz made his Penguins debut, tallying a goal and assist.

Chicago gave away red “Blackhawks” hard hats to the fans at the United Center. The crowd littered the ice with hard hats after Toews scored what appeared to be his first career hat trick. However, a replay review ruled that Toews’ stick was above the crossbar when he re-directed the puck into the net. The crowd had a second shot when Toews recorded his third goal in the third period. This time there was no review.

Three quick observations on the Blackhawks: One, they use their incredible speed in place of an “along-the-boards cycle.” Instead of fighting along the wall, Chicago skates around in circles in the attacking zone. Two, Chicago is able to cycle with speed because they utilize their defensemen extremely well. The Blackhawks blueliners act like forwards with their speed and rotation. They sneak into the play and apply a lot of pressure. Three, Chicago uses the United Center boards to their advantage. The Blackhawks bank passes off the boards like basketball players making bounce passes. They really are a joy to watch in the offensive zone.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Pittsburgh improved to 31-26-6 on the year, with a 14-14-4 mark on the road. The Penguins are now 4-1-1 since Dan Bylsma was named interim head coach.

> Scoring:
PIT, J.Staal (16), 3:36 1st period: Penguins 1, Blackhawks 0.
PIT, C.Kunitz (17), 8:44 1st period: Penguins 2, Blackhawks 0.
CHI, J.Toews PP (23), 15:44 1st period: Penguins 2, Blackhawks 1.
CHI, J.Toews PP (24), 6:36 2nd period: Penguins 2, Blackhawks 2.
PIT, M.Satan (16), 18:24 2nd period: Penguins 3, Blackhawks 2.
PIT, M.Talbot (9), 19:01 2nd period: Penguins 4, Blackhawks 2.
CHI, J.Toews PP (25), 1:55 3rd period: Penguins 4, Blackhawks 3.
CHI, D.Bolland PP (14), 15:15 3rd period: Penguins 4, Blackhawks 4.
PIT, E.Malkin PP (28), 1:36 OT: Penguins 5, Blackhawks 4.

> Evgeni Malkin tallied the overtime winner against Chicago to extend his NHL lead in points to 89 (28G-61A). Malkin’s 61 assists are a league-best and a new single-season career high. In his last 23 games, Malkin has collected 13 goals and 16 assists for 29 points.

> Malkin has a seven-game scoring streak in which he’s tallied nine points (4G-5A). Malkin has notched a point in 18 of his last 21 games.

> Sidney Crosby did not play against Chicago with a groin injury. He is third in the league in scoring with 79 points (23G-56A) and his 56 assists are second most in the league behind teammate Malkin’s 61.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 41 saves to net his fourth win in his past five games. He now has 99 career NHL victories.

> Chris Kunitz scored his first goal as a Penguin in his first game with his new club. Kunitz has three goals in his last fives games and four points in that span.

> Miroslav Satan scored his second goal in five games.

> Maxime Talbot netted his third goal in his last five games.

> Sergei Gonchar tallied two assists against the Blackhawks. He is currently riding a six-game scoring streak (2G-5A), which is his longest stretch as a Penguin. He went scoreless in his first game returning from shoulder surgery. Gonchar has scored in every game since.
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1. C.Barker, CHI
2. E.Malkin, PIT
3. J.Toews, CHI
“The bottom line is this is a tough building with a good
team that came at us pretty hard. We were
able to hang in there and get two points.”
- Dan Bylsma told FSN Pittsburgh
 

 


Author: Sam Kasan

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