The Chicago Blackhawks dominated to a 5-1 victory, over the Pittsburgh Penguins, in a scenic and hard fought Stadium Series game, at Soldier Field.
A clunky start to the 1st period, where everyone on the ice really looked like they were wearing several extra layers, under their new Stadium Series sweaters. The Hawks were moving the puck as well as they could, which was at least better than Pittsburgh, and they even worked the Penguins into taking a penalty, when Simon Despres went to the Penalty Box, for tripping. Unfortunately, the Power Play would prove fruitless, for the Hawks, but not terrible, especially when considering the Penguins’ elite PK unit, and the wintery conditions.
The puck did not want to move, which was to be expected, with the Hoth-like conditions, on the ice, which made passing very interesting. To accompany poor puck movement were extra stoppages in play, as well as many fewer icing calls. Tanner Glass would give the Hawks their 2nd Power Play, of the 1st period, when he took a boarding penalty, at 8:12. While the Hawks would generate a few good chances, and Penguins goaltedner, Marc-Andre Fleury would give up some juicy rebounds, once again, this Power Play would prove to be for naught.
While the first two Power Plays generated nothing for the scoreboard, the Hawks kept knocking on the door, and eventually, Jonathan Toews would sneak behind the net and find Patrick Sharp, in front of the net, and Sharp would bury the 1st goal, of the game, and give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later, Pittsburgh would get a chance to steal some of the Hawks’ momentum, as Johnny Oduya would head to the Penalty Box, for holding, giving the Pens’ a Power Play. The Hawks would kill the penalty, and take the 1-0 lead, into the Bears’ locker room, for the 1st intermission.
The Blackhawks would be without Marian Hossa, for the rest of the game, at the 2nd period started. The 2nd frame started with with beautifully clear weather, and a clean sheet of ice. The teams would pick up where they left off, when Simon Despres took a hi-sticking penalty to give the Hawks yet another Power Play, early in the 2nd. Yet again, the Penguins would kill it off, but the Hawks had several great chances and hit several posts, as they kept the momentum rolling, in their favor. Minutes later, the snow started falling again, but there would also be a flurry of penalties, to accompany the wintery precipitation.
Duncan Keith would take a delay of game penalty, and the Penguins would get their 2nd Power Play, albeit a brief one, as Chris Kunitz would take a roughing penalty, and cancel out the Power Play, and there would be 4 on 4 hockey, for a few seconds. Oduya would give the Pens’ a 4 on 3 Power Play, with an interference penalty.
Take a moment to mentally sort out all of those penalties. Okay.
ALL of that was for naught, as the Hawks would continue to apply pressure to the Penguins, even down 4 on 3. The Hawks were truly dominating the tempo and pace of the game, which would eventually yield benefits, as the captain, Jonathan Toews went 5-hole, on Fleury, and after video review, it was confirmed, 2-0 Hawks.
Don’t worry, there would be more penalties, before the 2nd period ended, as Duncan Keith would make a return trip, to the penalty box, giving Pittsburgh a chance to grab some momentum, and chance to start catching up, less than a minute after falling behind 2-0, but this penalty would also be killed. After a nice spell of back and forth, 5-on-5 hockey, Patrick Kane would show off incredible patience, and passing ability as he found a wide-open Kris Versteeg, in front of the net, and he made it 3-0, Blackhawks.
The goal, for Versteeg, was the 100th goal of his career and with it he became the only player to score a goal at the United Center, Wrigley Field, AND Soldier Field.
If you thought you’d heard the last of penalty whistles, think again, as Michal Rozsival would head to the box, for tripping, right after the Versteeg goal. However, the 2nd period would end, with the Blackhawks holding a 3-0 lead, over the Penguins.
The 3rd period got off to a back and forth start, but eventually, the Blackhawks would start applying more and more pressure, and they would eventually score…kinda. Brent Seabrook accidentely put the puck in the Hawks’ net, with James Neal getting credit for the goal, to make the score 3-1 Blackhawks, and giving the Penguins some new life.
At the 10 minute mark, of the 3rd, both teams switched sides, due to the heavy Chicago wind.
The Penguins would get yet ANOTHER opportunity, on the Power Play, and yet again, the Hawks Penalty Kill was up to the challenge. Not long after the kill, Brandon Saad stole the puck and made a beautiful backhand pass to Bryan Bickell, who then found the back of the net, to give the Hawks a 4-1 lead, late in the 3rd period.
With 2 minutes to play, Toews, once again, finds the back of the net, off of a crazy bouncing rebound, to give the Hawks a 5-1 lead, and the final nail, in the Penguins’ coffin, as the Blackhawks would go on to win, by a score of 5-1.
The Blackhawks dominated, the whole game, going 6 for 6, on the Penalty Kill, against the NHL’s best Power Play, and they also generated slick scring chances, when they had the puck, en route to a blowout victory, in the NHL Stadium Series, at Soldier Field!