The Metropolitan Division-leading Penguins won their second game
in three nights Sunday as center Sidney Crosby scored two goals in
the final 4:41 to seal a 4-1 victory over the Blackhawks.
Crosby raised his NHL-leading point total to 99 by collecting his
35th and 36th goals.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 25 shots for the Penguins, who
went 2-5-1 in their previous eight games before beating the Columbus
Blue Jackets on the road Friday night. Pittsburgh (48-22-5) also
avenged a 5-1 loss to the Blackhawks on March 1 at Soldier Field in
Chicago that was part of the NHL Stadium Series.
"I like the compete level of our team. The game level has been
high," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "You don't expect the Chicago
Blackhawks to come in and play a heavy game, but I thought it was
one of the most physical and hard-fought games we played all year.
"We remember that snowy night in Chicago when they took it to us. We
wanted to respond, and we did."
The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks (42-19-15) lost a
third game in a row in regulation for the first time since Feb.
23-26, 2012. They have scored just eight goals in their past five
games despite leading the league in scoring, and they are 1-6-1 in
their past eight road games.
Already without star right winger Patrick Kane, who is out through
at the least the end of the regular season with a lower-body injury,
the Blackhawks lost center and captain Jonathan Toews to a
lower-body injury late in the second period. Toews went to the
locker room after taking a hard check from Penguins defenseman
Brooks Orpik along the boards.
There was no immediate word about the severity of the injury.
Meanwhile, Blackhawks left winger Bryan Bickell (upper body) sat out
his eighth straight game and defenseman Michal Rozsival (lower body)
missed his sixth game in a row.
"It's never easy when you lose a leader like (Toews)," Blackhawks
right winger Marian Hossa said. "Obviously, we've got some big guys
hurt, Patrick Kane and we'll see how bad it's going to be with
Johnny. Hopefully, it's nothing big. We'll have to figure out how to
play without some top guys."
Wingers James Neal (24th) and Lee Stempniak (11th) scored goals 21
seconds apart midway through the first period to put the Penguins
Fluery made the goals stand up as he won his second start in a row
after snapping a personal three-game losing streak Friday.
Penguins left winger Chris Kunitz had two assists.
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Defenseman Sheldon Brookbank scored the Blackhawks' lone goal, his
second, at 11:10 of the second period to cut the deficit to 2-1.
However, Crosby put the game away late.
"It feels good to get that two-goal cushion," Crosby said. "They put
a lot of pressure on us. I thought we did a good job, they got a
couple of good chances but we blocked a lot of shots. You have to be
really patient and wait for your chances. They started to take a few
more risks themselves, and we were able to capitalize."
Meanwhile, the frustration level is starting to rise with the
"Every night there's a different reason to why pucks are going in
our net," right winger Patrick Sharp said, "but at the end of the
day, we believe in each other, believe in our team and we'll find a
way to get out of it."
NOTES: Penguins C Evgeni Malkin (foot), C Joe Vitale (upper body)
and C Marcel Goc (ankle) were scratched. While Malkin and Goc won't
be back until the playoffs, Vitale missed his sixth straight game
but is skating at practice and could return before the end of the
regular season. ... Penguins rookie D Olli Maatta was back in the
lineup after being rested Friday night in a win at Columbus. ...
Blackhawks LW Brandon Saad, a Pittsburgh native, played in a
regular-season game in his hometown for the first time as Chicago
made its first visit to Consol Energy Center since Dec. 20, 2011.
... Penguins LW Taylor Pyatt and Blackhawks LW Brandon Bollig each
were credited with six hits, and Pittsburgh D Rob Scuderi and
Chicago D Niklas Hjalmarsson both blocked four shots. ... The
Penguins host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. The
Blackhawks are off until Thursday night, when they host the
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