Tyler Kennedy had the game on his stick twice in the waning moments and couldn’t deliver either time. Consequently, the visiting Penguins dropped a 3-2 shootout decision at Chicago in a nationally-televised match-up between the last two Stanley Cup champions.
Late in the third, Kennedy skated in all alone but couldn’t bury the game-winner in the top half of the net vacated by a sprawling Corey Crawford. Later, in the shootout, after Patrick Kane put the Hawks ahead, Kennedy flubbed his team’s final attempt and the Penguins hung their head.
A valiant effort by the depleted Pittsburgh squad still managed to earn a valuable point and the black & golf sit six points behind Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia. The Blackhawks, a desperate bunch that is currently 11th in the West and two points shy of establishing a chance to defend their title, struggled to put away their opponent despite the rich-offensive spoils the likes of Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marion Hossa, Patrick Sharp, and Duncan Keith.
Playing without their gifted centers Crosby and Malkin, the Pens got equalizers from Matt Cooke and Brett Sterling to highlight their Hockey Day in America effort.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves but a fluttering wrister from Bryan Bickell will haunt his dreams this evening. A tight-knit 1-1 game was broken when Bickell surprised Fleury and snuck his shot in the upper corner just 1:09 into the final period. Although Sterling later tied the game, this mental lapse from Fleury was the gaffe of the contest. However, the Pittsburgh goalie did make several credible saves to keep the game close.
It was another workmanlike gameplan that solidified a point against a solid Western Conference club. It is easy to root for this band of underdogs as they attempt to keep the ship afloat while the playoff tidal wave quickly approaches.
Today’s tilt started a week that features five games, including tomorrow night’s tussle with Washington in the Consol Entergy Center. The Sharks, Canes, and Leafs also lie in wait.
Buckle up your strap Pens fans, this could get interesting.