PIT Goal Scorers: Jordan Staal (2), Matt Cooke (1), Tyler Kennedy (1)
CHI Goal Scorers:Michael Frolik (1)
PIT – Brent Johnson (9 saves on 10 shots | Scott Munroe (6 saves on 6 shots)
CHI:– Alexander Salak (8 saves on 8 shots) | Ray Emery (15 saves on 19 shots)
1. Jordan Staal (2 Goals, 62.5 FO%, 20:03)
2. Matt Cooke ( 1 Goal *GW*)
3. Tyler Kennedy (1 Goal, 2 Assists)
The Pittsburgh Penguins improved to 2-0 in the preseason, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Thursday night at Consol Energy Center. After a sluggish offensive effort after forty minutes, Pittsburgh broke out with a four goal-third period, led by Jordan Staal’s two-goal effort, including a beauty with nine seconds remaining in action.
The Penguins top line of Staal, Nick Johnson (2 assists) and Tyler Kennedy combined for 3 goals and 4 assists in the victory.
Cooke netted the game winner with a redirection goal at 10:42 of the third.
Brett Johnson got the start and made 9 saves in forty minutes of action. Scott Munroe held the Hawks scoreless in the third.
Less Chippy than Expected: The game as expected was a snoozer for much of it, especially the first 30 minutes but a surprise development was the lack of physical play and chippiness from both teams.
“It wasn’t as chippy as most exhibition games, ” Penguins center Jordan Staal said afterwards.
Engelland, Lovejoy active in offensive zone: I mentioned over the weekend that Deryk Engelland has been looking to become more active in the transition game and in the offensive zone. That’s an area of needed improvement Engelland feels is critical to staying in the lineup and we saw Engelland make that a top priority in his game tonight.
Engelland was active early and often, and made an excellent pass on Tyler Kennedy’s third period tally at 14:14 of the period, driving to the net and setting up Kennedy.
Engelland also went on to lead the Penguins with 8 hits and was a physical presence in front of net.
Meanwhile, Ben Lovejoy was extremely active in the offensive zone and picked his spots well. He played the Penguins system nearly perfect tonight, from the standpoint of what they look for from their defensemen. Lovejoy had an assist and was a +3 in the game. He continues to emerge as a lock in the top-6 and No. 5 defenseman.
Johnson did his part: Nick Johnson did what he had to do, with a 2 assist night and 4 shots on goal. “He’s played with Jordan before last year as part of the No. 1 line and did a good job in that regard. Playing with him and TK today, you saw more of that, you saw speed and wide a couple times and turning into some plays, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said on Johnson’s play. “For that line to get some offense, that’s what Nick’s gotta bring and gotta bring that with a little bit of tenacity as well.”
Picard not quick enough to be a regular?: One thing I’ve noticed from Alex Picard in the scrimmages and tonight is that he’s not quick enough skating and decision making wise to fit the Penguins system as a regular. That’s going to be his biggest achilles heel to beating out Matt Niskanen. This coaching staff values defensemen who can jump up in the play and be a factor in the transition game. Haven’t seen enough yet from Picard.
Picard did lead the Penguins with 23:45 of ice time.
*The Kennedy – Staal – Johnson unit combined for 7 points and 12 shots on goal
*Jordan Staal had a team high 62.5 face-off percentage, going 10 of 16 in the victory.
*Deryk Engelland had a team high 8 hits. No other Penguin had more than 3 hits
*Mark Letestu was 2-for-8 on face-offs.