Artemi Panarin lifts Blackhawks to OT win over Penguins


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.

Report: Tommy Hawk attacked at the United Center


Report: Tommy Hawk attacked at the United Center

According to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times, the Blackhawks organization dealt with a disturbance off the ice during their 4-3 loss on Friday night to the Winnipeg Jets.

According to authorities, mascot ‘Tommy Hawk’ was attacked by a male fan around 11:15 PM on the United Center concourse.

A video of the incident was spreading on social media and the Chicago Police have since confirmed the disturbance.

No one is in custody as of Saturday evening, though there is a physical description of the alleged attacker.  

A Blackhawks spokesman gave this statement:

We are gathering the facts and will have no further comment at this time, pending our investigation.

Four takeaways: Jets win in overtime, but Blackhawks building momentum

Four takeaways: Jets win in overtime, but Blackhawks building momentum

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on Friday:

1. Top guns lead the charge for Jets

The Jets are one of the best teams in the NHL because they're absolutely loaded up front and get their scoring from everywhere. The Blackhawks know this of their Central Division foes and after seeing them for the third time in two weeks.

On Nov. 29, it was Nikolaj Ehlers who had a hat trick. On Tuesday, Kyle Connor had a two-goal night. On Friday, it was Mark Scheifele (two goals, one assist) and Blake Wheeler (three assists) leading the way for the Jets with three-point efforts. The top guys have been a thorn in the Blackhawks' side this season, with Scheifele scoring the game-winner 50 seconds into overtime for their third victory against Chicago in 15 days.

"You can play really well against them for 58 minutes, but it only takes just an instant and then it’s in the back of your net," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "That’s something that we gotta learn, to play against those guys and in those situations if you’re going to be able to go head-to-head. A lot of it we were really good, we had let downs and it made it tough for us. But we did a lot of good things."

2. Last-minute goals

In all three periods, there were last-minute goals that changed the flow of the game. 

After the Jets took a 1-0 lead in the first period, Jonathan Toews responded for the Blackhawks with 10.2 seconds left to even it at 1-1. In the second, Mathieu Perreault scored on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box with 18 seconds remaining to put the Jets back in front 3-2. And then in the third, Erik Gustafsson tied it at 3-3 with 7.5 left to force overtime. 

"It's tough after a loss in overtime, but it felt good," said Gustafsson, who missed the previous two games with an illness. "I didn't know it was 7 seconds left, but it was good to see it go in. ... It was good to be back here with the team, too. I wasn't in the last game. We came out hard the first period and I think we played a solid 60 minutes. Tough break in the overtime."

3. Captain Consistency

Toews usually produces on the scoresheet in spurts. Historically, he'll go through stretches where his offense dries up for several games in a row. And then he'll follow that up by getting really hot. This season has been different.

The Blackhawks captain's longest point drought this year is three games. After scoring two more goals, his season total is up to 16 through 34 games, taking over the team lead from Patrick Kane. He had 20 goals in 74 games last season, showing just how far he's come from a year ago.

Toews is on pace to finish with a career-high 39 goals — his current personal best is 34, set in 2008-09. The Blackhawks need him to continue producing at that rate, and there's no reason he can't.

"Our line played well and created a lot of chances," Toews said. "If it's me scoring or [Dominik Kahun] or [Brandon Saad], it doesn't really matter. As long as we're making plays when we've got the puck out there, we're happy about that."

4. Jets power play stays hot

The best advice when you play the Jets: Stay out of the penalty box. Because they'll make you pay.

Entering Friday, they had the top-ranked power play with a 30.4 percent success rate. The Blackhawks gave them three opportunities and they cashed in on one, giving them eight power-play goals on 17 attempts in their past four games (47.1 percent conversation rate). They also improved to 5-for-11 (45.5 percent) in three games against the Blackhawks.

To the Blackhawks' credit, they killed off two key penalties in the third period before the first TV timeout and it allowed them to keep it a one-goal game and ultimately force overtime by scoring the next goal.

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