After what can only be described as the need to banish the state of Florida from the rest of the NHL, the Blackhawks found their stride in Pittsburgh with a 5-1 win over the Penguins on Wednesday night. With goals scored by five different players, Patrick Kane tallying his 49th and 50th assists of the year, and coach Joel Quenneville winning his 850th game, the Hawks’ three-game road trip ended with a flourish.
Here’s what happened:
Similar to Monday’s game in Tampa, Chicago got off to a RED hot start as Artemi Panarin tapped in a beautiful feed from Patrick Kane to put the Hawks ahead in the first five minutes of the game. The play further proves that number 88 is a strong contender in the MVP conversation this season. Just watch:
The goal was Panarin’s 26th of the season, and was the second straight time the Hawks’ first goal came from the stick of Panarin. Chicago struck again later in the period, as Richard Panik launched home a one-timer from Nick Schmaltz to open a two goal lead. The goal was Panik’s 22nd of the season, with Schmaltz dishing his 20th assists of the year.
With a minute left in the period, Marcus Kruger wristed a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury after Patrick Kane found Kruger with a no-look pass near center ice. For Kane, the assist was his second of the night and his 50th of the season. Just 38 seconds after Kurger scored, Ryan Hartman fed Marian Hossa on a two on one rush that resulted in the Hawks’ fourth goal of the period. The goal was Hossa’s 25th of the season, and gave Chicago a healthy 4-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
After an electric start to the contest, the second period saw both teams trade equally good scoring chances. Corey Crawford stood tall throughout, fighting off a total of twelve shots in the second period to keep the score sheet bare for the Penguins. Despite allowing four goals in the first period, Marc-Andre Fleury remained in the game for Pittsburgh. The Penguin net-minder recovered well after a brutal first stanza, stopping all eleven of Chicago’s shots on goal. The Hawks skated into the second intermission still holding a 4-0 lead.
After trading chances in the first period, the Hawks and Penguins traded goals to start the third. Tanner Kero took an intercepted pass into Pittsburgh’s zone on a breakaway, firing a shot under the blocker of Fleury to put Chicago up 5-0 in the first four minutes of the third period. The goal was Kero’s 6th of the season, resulting in his third point in two games as a member of the second line.
Pittsburgh would finally get on the board shortly after Kero’s goal, as Bryan Rust weaved his way through the Hawks’ defense and slid the puck past Crawford’s outstretched pad. Regardless of the allowed goal, Crawford’s performance was a BIG improvement after allowing ten goals in his last three starts. Corey stopped 31 of 32 shots seen, and will head home with some much needed momentum.
SCH 3 Stars
- Artemi Panarin, CHI (1 goal, 1 assist)
- Tanner Kero, CHI (1 goal, 1 assist)
- Patrick Kane, CHI (2 assists, 3 shots on goal)
Chicago returns home Friday night to face the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7:30 p.m. CT