Another night, another game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, another victory: it was a nice two-game set for the Blackhawks, who beat the Penguins 3-1 on Wednesday night to win their fifth consecutive game.
And once again, a certain young forward figured prominently in the outcome. But we’ll get to that soon enough. Here are Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ second victory in as many nights over the Penguins.
1. Artemi Panarin delivers again. Panarin is midway through his first NHL season and it’s been a pretty nice one thus far. He added three goals in these two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who may be quickly becoming his favorite opponent. Said coach Joel Quenneville of Panarin’s shot, “he snaps it. That’s the deception of it that can catch goalies. He has pace behind it, too. you put the two together, it’s lethal.”
2. A tale of two power plays. The Blackhawks’ power play is good, as in second-in-the-NHL good. At home it hasn’t been nearly as opportunistic, especially lately. The Blackhawks went 0-for-3 on it on Wednesday night, not even registering a shot on their third advantage. It ultimately didn’t cost them, but it didn’t help, either. But…
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
3. The penalty kill comes up big. Yes, Evgeni Malkin’s goal came on a power play, and it was one heck of a shot. But on the Penguins’ ensuing power plays, the Blackhawks’ kill was stellar. The Blackhawks killed off three of four Penguins advantages, any of which could have changed the Penguins’ fortunes on Wednesday night. Said Andrew Desjardins, “you’re short a man so you’re not going to stop every one. There are going to be goals scored. It’s just to rebound from those goals and do your job the next time out.”
4. A nice night for the opposing goalie. Marc-Andre Fleury had Trevor van Riemsdyk frustrated with his great blocker stop on the defenseman in the second period. Fleury did that to a few Blackhawks on Wednesday night, thwarting several golden opportunities. Seriously, Panarin was the only guy to solve him – Teuvo Teravainen’s goal was an empty-net effort – and Panarin’s were just beautifully placed.
5. Not a bad first half. Actually the Blackhawks are one game past the midway point, and what started as an up-and-down season has leveled off. The Blackhawks are finding a nice little rhythm right now. Sure, they’d still like to get more balanced scoring on a consistent basis. But things are coming together and they’re in good shape in the Central Division. Not a bad first 41, er, 42.