The Chicago Blackhawks swept the season series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, edging the defending Stanley Cup champions 2-1. This is the Blackhawks’ eight straight regular season win against the Penguins. This was also the first time this season that the Pens have lost on their home ice.
Gustav Forsling started the scoring with a powerplay tally 12:32 into the first period. The Penguins would not have an answer until eight minutes into the third frame, when Matt Hunwick got a short-handed goal past Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks would regain the lead 21 seconds later, courtesy of another powerplay goal, this time by Artem Anisimov. The Penguins almost tied it again courtesy of Jake Guentzel, but the goal was negated due to Olli Maatta interfering on Crawford inside the blue paint, preventing him to properly defend the goalmouth. The Penguins had a late surge with the empty net in the dying seconds of the third, but Crawford stood tall and sealed the Blackhawks’ win.
The Blackhawks improve to 10-8-2 entering the quarter pole of the season. They are currently fourth in the Central Division, but tied with third place Nashville Predators in points with 22.
Crawford crisis averted
A scary moment for Blackhawks fans everywhere during the second period, when Evgeni Malkin barrelled towards the net, hitting Crawford in the head with his knee as Crawford tried to play the puck. Malkin got two minutes for goalie interference, and Anton Forsberg minded the net for three minutes while Crawford was taken inside the locker rooms for some require concussion protocols. Lucky for Hawks fans, Crawford went back to the ice during a stoppage of play, even sharing some words with Malkin before play continued.
Special teams on fire
The Blackhawks have now scored five powerplay goals in their last three games. Artem Anisimov has scored in the man advantage in three consecutive games now. He has also scored nine goals in his last ten games. The penalty kill has also been on fire as of late. It has been perfect in eight of their last nine games.
For the second straight game, Gustav Forsling has elevated his play. He has scored two powerplay goals in as many games, had four shots on goal tonight, and was on the ice longer than any other Blackhawk not named Crawford or Keith. He made some good plays tonight, was always on the passing lanes of many Penguins skaters, and helped save a goal or two during the dying seconds of the third.
The Blackhawks are off until Wednesday night, when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts are the hottest team in the NHL entering the quarter pole of the season. They have won 15 of the first 20 games of the season, and the top line of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Vladimir Namestnikov is the hottest line in the league. Stamkos and Kucherov have the most points in the league, with 35 and 33 points respectively.
My Three Stars:
3. Gustav Forsling 1G
2. Artem Anisimov 1G
1. Corey Crawford 35 saves.