KEY TAKEAWAY’S FROM PENGUINS – BLACKHAWKS
The Penguins had three winning ingredients in Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks:
1. Strong goaltending – Marc Andre Fleury, 25 saves on 26 shots
2. Quick Strike Ability – 2 goals in 21 seconds in first period
3. Physical Play – Pittsburgh Outhit Chicago 39-21
The game wasn’t lopsided in Pittsburgh’s favor by any means like the final score may indicate but those three key areas fueled them to the 4-1 win.
Lee Stempniak and James Neal scored 21 seconds apart as the Penguins jumped on the Hawks in the first period but Chicago controlled the play in the second period and in the first 10 minutes or so in the third period as the Blackhawks dominant possession game was on display.
The Penguins are at their best when their top players make the opposition pay for mistakes and that was the case as the Blackhawks gave up a second 2-on-1 to Sidney Crosby in the third period and Crosby wouldn’t miss a second time, beating Corey Crawford glove side to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead with 4:51 left to play. Pretty much game over there and Crosby would add an empty net goal for goals 35 and 36 on the season.
The biggest takeaway for the Penguins was their physical play and all of the talk afterwards was Brooks Orpik’s crushing hit on Jonathan Toews that was clean and knocked the Blackhawks star forward out of the game in the second period.
No disciplinary hearing is scheduled for Orpik. “I think that hit happens 10 times a game,” Orpik said following the game.
“Orpik is a heavy hitter,” former teammate Marian Hossa said. “That’s his game and It’s never easy to play against him. Sometimes he’s on the borderline, but I know him as a fair guy and that’s how I remember him.”
That type of punishing hit Orpik delivered on Toews only grows his reputation as one of the NHL’s most punishing hitters and is among the reasons Orpik is going to do very well for himself on the open market this summer, despite his game slipping some again this season.
If there’s one weakness with the Blackhawks it’s that you can push them at times, especially when they aren’t at full strength. Orpik and Robert Bortuzzo were again the tone setters from the start of the game.
“I thought this was one of our most physical games of the year,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “We saw it from the beginning of the game until the end.”