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Penguins vs. Blackhawks Recap: The one that got away. Pens lose

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The Pittsburgh Penguins give up a go-ahead goal late in the 2nd period and then Patrick Kane completes a hat-trick to help lead the Blackhawks to a 4-1 win that seemed a lot closer than the final score.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

A few changes from last night - Carter Rowney gets back into the lineup (replacing the traded Eric Fehr). Marc-Andre Fleury is in the crease to give Matt Murray a night off. And recently recalled Derrick Pouliot is back in the NHL for his first game since 12/28.

1st period

Lots of end-to-end play, not much in the way of shots or scoring chances. Sidney Crosby leads a 2-on-1 at one point but a sprawling Brent Seabrook makes a great defensive play to neutralize it without a shot on goal.

Ron Hainsey makes the biggest play of his young Penguins career, knocking the hell out of a Blackhawk and sending him into the Pittsburgh bench.

(The best part may be at the end when Cole dumps the dude's feet into the bench to make sure his dangling skate wouldn't injury anyone on the bench)

Justin Schultz takes a penalty but Pittsburgh kills it off, Fleury makes a flashy glove save on a Duncan Keith point shot and Tom Kuhnhackl hits the cross-bar while shorthanded but no goal.

Shots 9-7 in the period in favor of Chicago.

2nd period

Crosby hits the crossbar early but the puck doesn't go in. Both teams trade changes but it's Chicago who strikes first. Jake Guentzel gets his stick lifted by a back-checking Nick Schmaltz. Schmaltz quickly feeds a long pass to Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks are on a 2-on-1 out of no where. Kane feigns pass, opening up Fleury's 5-hole and then wrists a quick shot. 1-0.

Peak Fleury later in the second, a glove save with an uncontrolled rebound pushing him almost out of the net. But he dives back to make a save on the follow-up (h/t Cole with a partial shot block) and then pushes off to his left to square up on his angle and make a 3rd and final save in the sequence (after the GIF below cuts off).

Scott Wilson scores a goal...Or does he? Beaut of a pass by Hainsey to find Wilson, who dips his shoulder and goes backhand-shelf. So quickly the on ice ref waives it off no goal. Eventually the horn sounds, up top they could tell the puck did sneak in the net before popping out. 1-1.

(Sadly doesn't do justice to the great pass from Hainsey)

But in the last minute of the period Chicago reclaims their lead. Richard Panik makes a sweet stickhandling move right past Evgeni Malkin then fires a shot off just inside the net blocker side on Fleury.. 2-1.

Shots in the period 17-14 Pittsburgh (24-23 CHI overall). Really sour taste to give up a go-ahead goal with 23 seconds left in the period though.

3rd period

The Cullen-Crosby-Kessel line gets another shift and goes wild again, but Darling robs Cullen from right in front.

Good back and forth game, time keeps ticking. Panik goes short-side but luckily the post stands strong.

3 minutes to go, Chicago gets another odd-man rush for the road, they find Kane and he doesn't make any mistakes, sneaking the puck just under Fleury's glove.

Kane completes his hat trick on an empty net. 4-1.

Shots end up 37-29 in favor of the Pens for the game. Score ends up 4-1 not in favor of the Pens.

Some Thoughts

  • Cullen-Crosby-Kessel was a line that happened for one shift, and as always is something I'll document. They generated a lot; a Sid backhand shot from in deep, a Sid one-timer on a Cole shot-pass, 2 Cullen shot attempts. But alas they'd only catch a couple of shifts together, despite generating some excitement.
  • Much more visible game for Crosby in this one than last night in Dallas
  • Pouliot's first night back was quiet, which is good. He got the quick hook on a lot of shifts, no d-zone starts and low TOI (by far the defense low with 13:54) wasn't put in a position to fail for as much as possible. And he generated an offensive chance too, floating a puck on net that Carl Hagelin deflected but Scott Darling made a nice save.
  • Unlimited odd man rushes against. Chicago's very good in transition. Pittsburgh's icing a lot of new and unfamiliar pairings and it was obvious. Need to brush up more than a little there now that a look at the calendar reads March.
  • The Pens got some chances of their own, but Darling was really good. Shame to run into a backup standing on his head, but that's life sometimes. Can't do too much more than they did, just couldn't get more than 1 in the net.
  • Pretty good game, Pittsburgh just ended up on the wrong side of what was a close one until Kane scored his hat trick. Not bad considering Letang, Sheary and Rust are all out and Streit will be in soon for Pouliot or Ruhwedel..
  • Pittsburgh played on the second night of a b-2-b, had good jump though against a rested, homestanding Chicago team.
  • No power plays all game for Pittsburgh. Only the one in the 1st period for Chicago. Fairly clean game but refs were looking to let them play all night long.

Never fun to lose two in a row, but things happen. Pittsburgh heads back home (where they don't usually lose) for games on Friday and Sunday. Onward.