Blackhawks

Artemi Panarin lifts Blackhawks to OT win over Penguins

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Artemi Panarin lifts Blackhawks to OT win over Penguins

PITTSBURGH – There’s something about the Blackhawks when they play in Pittsburgh: it’s never easy.

The Blackhawks haven’t taken a regulation victory in this city in nearly 20 years – seriously, it was Feb. 22, 1997, when some of the current Blackhawks were elementary-school age or younger.

Tuesday wasn’t easy, either. But just when it looked like the Blackhawks were going to squander a point after squandering a two-goal lead, they found the overtime answer.

Artemi Panarin scored two goals, including the winner 3:47 into overtime, as the Blackhawks beat the Penguins 3-2 on Tuesday. The Blackhawks have now won four in a row as they head back to Chicago, where they’ll face the Penguins again on Wednesday night.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Jonathan Toews, who scored his 14th goal of the season, was cut early in overtime when he collided with Patrick Kane. Coach Joel Quenneville said Toews is fine and the captain is expected to play on Wednesday.

Corey Crawford had another strong game, stopping 34 of 36 shots in the victory.

The Penguins scored twice in the third period, a snipe from Sidney Crosby and a Kris Letang offering that deflected off Patrick Kane’s stick, as they salvaged a point after trailing 2-0 the first 40 minutes. The Blackhawks weren’t surprised by the pushback from the Pens, who are 7-0-5 in their last 12 meetings vs. the Hawks in Pittsburgh.

“I think it can be better in the third,” Duncan Keith said. “They were pressing. We made a few mistakes but they’ve got a good team, got some firepower and they’re going to get some chances and I thought it was a good overtime. They had some chances but we played good positionally and we gave them the outside and gave them some tougher angles."

[MORE: WATCH: Artemi Panarin scores game-winning OT goal in Blackhawks win] 

The fact that the Blackhawks had a 2-0 lead through the first two periods was a bit surprising. They weren’t playing that well, with passes finding their opponents more than teammates. Still, Panarin, off a pass from a patient Kane, put the Blackhawks up 1-0 about nine minutes into the second and Toews scored with just over a minute remaining in the period.

“That second period it could’ve easily been 2 or 3-0 their way,” Quenneville said. “We had a really tough stretch there; we gave the puck away too many times. We got two breaks on our goals and they got themselves back in the game.”

Then came overtime – shtick or not, it’s entertaining and it was definitely that again on Tuesday night. Both Crawford and Marc-Andre Fleury made some fantastic saves before Panarin got the winner.

“I mean, he’s patient,” Crawford said of Panarin. “He’s got a great shot. He seems like he’s getting better as the season goes here. He’s definitely dangerous all over the ice.”

The Blackhawks always have some interesting outings in Pittsburgh. This one was no different, and a regulation victory would’ve been nice. But they’ll take the two points, even if it comes with some added drama.

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.

"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: