An odd game was decided by an exciting shootout on Sunday as Patrick Sharp’s tally against Marc Andre-Fleury gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the United Center.
Niklas Hjalmarsson scored the lone goal of the game for the Blackhawks, and both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane also scored in the shootout to help Chicago to their second straight victory. Nick Spaling had the lone goal of the game for the Penguins, but it wasn’t enough as the Blackhawks swept the season series against Pittsburgh.
Early in the game, the Penguins led in shots on goal, but the Blackhawks made a couple of big physical hits in open ice to keep things clogged up in the neutral zone. The Penguins had several two-on-one chances in the period, but Corey Crawford was able to make a couple of huge saves as the game remained scoreless at the end of the first period.
The second period got started with a couple of great Chicago chances in front, and even though Marc-Andre Fleury was able to slam the door on multiple occasions, the pressure eventually got to him. After an offensive zone face-off win by Toews, the Blackhawks cycled the puck back over to Hjalmarsson at the point, and the Hawks’ defenseman rifled a shot up over Fleury’s shoulder and into the back of the net to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
In the final 10 minutes of the period, both teams exchanged power play chances, but neither was able to score. Chicago was the more effective team during that stretch, with Sharp finding the post on a shot off a brilliant pass by Kane, and Marian Hossa had a chance of his own that was denied by Fleury. Toews followed up on the rebound, but Fleury was there to get yet another save as he kept his team in the game with his brilliant work.
Fleury was rewarded early in the third period as the Penguins were able to tie the game up. Kyle Cumiskey couldn’t keep Beau Bennett in front of him, and even though Crawford was able to make an initial save on Bennett’s short-side shot, the rebound he allowed was enough for Spaling to muscle home a one-timer opportunity to tie things up at 1-1.
The Penguins got a power play just after the goal when Brent Seabrook was sent off for cross-checking, but they were unable to score as Crawford made a couple of big saves, including one on Kris Letang. The Blackhawks also got a power play of their own with Sidney Crosby in the box late in the frame, but they were unable to seize the lead late as the game headed to overtime.
In the overtime, neither side was able to get much going in the scoring chance department, but both goaltenders stood tall when it was necessary. Fleury especially was big as he stopped an initial Hossa shot late in the frame, and then he kicked over to prevent a second chance as the Slovak veteran’s shot went off the outside of the net.
The shootout saw both teams score a couple of gorgeous goals, with David Perron and Toews each scoring to open things up and Crosby and Kane following suit in the second round. Crawford gloved down a shot from Letang on the Penguins’ third chance, and Sharp beat Fleury glove-side in the third round to give Chicago the victory.
The Hawks will next take to the ice on Wednesday night when they welcome the Detroit Red Wings to the United Center for the fifth game of their eight-game homestand.