Saturday night’s Stadium Series game was a matchup between two of the best teams and some of the best players in the NHL, and fans got to see the best duo in hockey.
And no, that duo is not the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. With so much talent on the ice it came down to who was going to blink first. Unfortunately for the Penguins they were the first to blink and they never got on track as they lost 5-1 at Soldier Field.
In a snow-filled first period it was the Blackhawks dominating the Penguins in every category. They outshot the Penguins 14-5, beat the Pens 12-3 in the faceoff circle, and they lead 1-0 on the scoreboard. The goal was scored by Patrick Sharp, his 29th of the season, one-timing a pass from Toews far side past Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Blackhawks (36-12-14, 86 points) kept the pressure on in the second period when Toews put on a beautiful inside-outside move on Brooks Orpik, leaving him in the dust and just sneaking one between the five-hole of Fleury. Increasing the lead to 2-0, the goal was Toews’ 20th of the season.
They didn’t stop there as Kris Versteeg would add his 10th of the year and 100th of his career, off a beautiful pass from Kane, making it 3-0. Even though the Penguins (40-16-4, 84 points) went into the locker room down 3-0 it could have been a lot worse as Kane hit two posts in the period.
You know it was bad for the Penguins offense when the only goal they could get was scored by a Blackhawks player. That is what happened when James Neal spun one in front of the net and Brent Seabrook, trying to clear the puck, put it in his own net. The goal was Neal’s 22nd of the season.
The Blackhawks would get the goal back on a rebound score by Bryan Bickell, his ninth. As if the night wasn’t bad enough for the Pens, defenseman Simon Despres decided to return the favor and knock the puck into his own net after Fleury stopped Toews’ chance. The goal was credited to Toews, his second of the game and 21st of the year.
The Penguins defense was nonexistent all game long as they gave up nine odd-man rushes, making the job harder for Fleury. Pittsburgh also went 0 for 6 on the power play, a rare off night for the league’s top unit.
The Penguins will look to get back on the winning track on Tuesday when they take on the Nashville Predators.