In a game the Pittsburgh Penguins had to have, the Chicago Blackhawks left town with a 5-2 win on Tuesday night in Steel City.
Bit of a cautious start for the Penguins as, maybe, they were feeling the weight of the must-win. The Hawks had more shots, Pittsburgh had the better chances, but neither team was able to score in the first.
Eight minutes into the second, Anders Bjork chased down a long dump in, the puck worked its way back to Connor Murphy at the point and he flicked a shot through a double screen that knuckled off the post and trickled past Penguins' goalie Tristan Jarry.
Pittsburgh came out buzzing and had a huge push to start the third, with multiple high-danger chances turned away by Petr Mrazek.
But the Penguins finally broke through on the power play when a long Rickard Rakell shot/pass was redirected past Mrazek by Evgeni Malkin.
Five minutes later a Caleb Jones one-timer from the blue line hit Buddy Robinson, then laid there long enough for Robinson to find it and snap it past Jarry to give the lead back to the Hawks:
Just 30 seconds after the Robinson goal, Andreas Athanasiou came flying into the Pittsburgh zone and had multiple whacks at a puck that was tangled in Jarry's skates before it eventually ended up in the back of the goal.
The Penguins got a power play with just over three minutes to go, pulled Jarry for an extra skater and the two-man advantage but weren't able to convert.
Tyler Johnson scored an empty-netter to give the Hawks a 4-1 lead.
Dalton Heinen scooped up a rebound and snuck it past Mrazek with 37 seconds left to cut the lead to 4-2 but it was too little, too late.
MacKenzie Entwhistle got the Hawks' second empty-netter to seal the deal.
- The Blackhawks finish the year with a record of 2-13-1 in the second game of back-to-backs.
- For the second straight week (and second straight Tuesday) the Hawks went up against a team that was absolutely fighting for its playoff life and looked like the only team that was interested. What an absolutely inexcusable loss for the Penguins (that will probably cost them a playoff spot).
- Buddy Robinson had 10 career points coming in to tonight's game. Buddy Robinson got two points in 26 seconds in the third period. THANKS A LOT, BUDDY.
- The Penguins are middle of the pack in power play league-wide but jump up to seventh at home. They had three power plays in the third and the Blackhawks killed off two. There's your game right there.
- Pittsburgh crushed the Hawks in shot share with a 64 percent positive mark, but both expected goals and high-danger chances were relatively close.
- Probably the best game I've seen from Petr Mrazek this season.
- If this was the last time Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby face each other, then Toews wins out with the better head-to-head record (12 wins against three losses) and finished with more points (14 to Crosby's nine).
- One more to go.
- Buddy Robinson (CHI) – 1 goal, 1 assist
- Andreas Athanasiou (CHI) – GWG
- Petr Mrazek (CHI) – .950 save percentage, 38 saves on 40 shots
The Blackhawks head back to Chicago to finish off the season against Philadelphia on Thursday night.