In a rematch of powerhouse clubs, the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to best the defending Stanley Cup champions this time around.
Beaten embarrassingly on Mar. 1 in the Soldier Field snow globe 5-1, Pittsburgh topped the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 Sunday night, in what was a complete game played by the Penguins.
Backstopped by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who picked up his 36th win of the season, Pittsburgh received two goals from captain Sidney Crosby, and absolutely annihilated Chicago in the hits category.
Pummeling the Blackhawks with 39 hits to their 21, we even saw Pens’ defenseman Brooks Orpik knock Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews out of the game with a heavy check into the boards, signifying how hard Pittsburgh came to play.
Getting goals from forwards James Neal and Lee Stempniak in the first period, Pittsburgh went into the second with a two-goal cushion and never looked back.
Despite a tally off a ducking-and-diving slap-shot from Blackhawks’ defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, Pittsburgh prevailed in the third period, as Crosby – who I referenced earlier potted two goals – buried a high-rising snap-shot via a two-on-one breakaway, and then sealed the deal with an empty-netter with 1:16 left in the game.
Fleury saved 25-of-26, and if he plays like he did in this game come playoff time, it’s going to be hard to bet against him. Because in the end, Pittsburgh’s cup hopes are dependent on how he performs – but I don’t need to tell Pens’ fans that.
Besides the clear observation that Fleury helped propel Pittsburgh to victory, in my opinion, it was extremely impressive to see how disciplined they played, and how urgent they performed on the defensive side.
Only giving Chicago one power play all game, the bad penalties that we’ve typically seen from the Pens failed to appear in this victory, and it very well may have been the determining factor towards their two-point efforts.
Creating a logjam in front of Fleury, the Pens’ defenders did a tremendous job of piling bodies in general. Leaving little-to-no lanes to shoot, Pittsburgh eliminated quality shots for Chicago, and relentlessly hounded the puck-handler, terminating time and space.
There’s obviously aspects of their game they still need to improve on, however, this outing was oh-so refreshing to see, given how close the postseason is. Especially since they’re without some key players too.
Pittsburgh executed what a championship team’s suppose to play like, and as long as the desperation is prevalent in their game, the talent everybody sees they possess will take care of itself.
As it stands, Pittsburgh will draw the Detroit Red Wings, and if that’s the ultimatum, it’s a must that they perform at a high-level, because Detroit’s arguably the hottest team in the NHL – and that’s without their top-two stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
Hopefully, the Pens’ ailing players can make it back before the playoffs commence. Jumping right into a postseason atmosphere may bite those injured skaters in the end, because of their long layoff.
Let’s keep this thing rolling boys.
Pittsburgh’s got the Carolina Hurricanes, Tuesday, at the CONSOL Energy Center.
The game can be seen on the ROOT Network, and is set to start at 7 p.m.
For an early jump on Pittsburgh Penguins playoff tickets check out TiqIQ.com
Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins