Pittsburgh Penguins Fall to Chicago 3-2 in Shootout: Recap and Analysis


The Pittsburgh Penguins looked to be getting back on track with their absurdly long injury list recently, but the team took a big step back over the last two days after playing the Philadelphia Flyers – who wasted little time in doling out as many illegal headshots, slashes, and crosschecks as they could before topping the Pens on a controversial overtime goal.

After the feisty affair last night, the Pens were forced to enter tonight’s contest against the Chicago Blackhawks without two of their most important players – Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

The loss of Letang was felt earlier in the season as well, as the team struggled offensively and defensively without the former Norris trophy nominee.

Missing Malkin, however, was a serious blow to a Penguins team that was already just barely getting by without the likes of key players like Patric Hornqvist and Blake Comeau.

Through 45 games this season, Geno has posted 19 goals and 51 points, good for 3rd-overall in the league, while raising his game to MVP-calibre levels.

Without such vital offensive stars in the lineup, the Pens had a tough time matching up to the offensively loaded Blackhawks, though they took the game to the brink and held on for a single point after losing in the shootout.

Chicago’s offense led the way for the first 23 minutes of the game as the Blackhawks, despite being outshot by Pittsburgh in both the first and second periods, put up one goal in each of said period – the first coming from David Rundblad and the second from former Pen Marian Hossa.

Pittsburgh managed to tie it up as the second period progressed, however, getting two goals from depth forwards Zach Sill and Steve Downie.

Deadlocked heading into the third, forward David Perron came close to netting the winner on a beautiful play that saw him stickhandle through two defensemen and past netminder Corey Crawford only to slip the puck through the right side of the crease and out the other side.

The 2-2 score would remain after 60 minutes, however, sending the game into overtime.

The Pens once again came away with more chances, outshooting the Hawks 4-2 in the extra frame, but once again couldn’t find the back of the net, letting the overtime period move into a shootout.

Without Letang and Malkin, two of the team’s top shootout wizards, the Pens stood little chance against the stacked Blackhawks who got goals from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – two of the best in the league in this area – to win the game.

Forwards Perron and Crosby took Pittsburgh’s shots and came close (Perron’s shot rang off the post) but were ultimately unsuccessful on their attempts.

While it was a tough task heading into the game, not only because the Blackhawks are one of the toughest match-ups in the league to begin with but also because Pittsburgh’s injury list grew to include two of their best, the fact is the Pens simply should’ve had more.

Sure their second line consisted of Brandon Sutter, Beau Bennett, and Nick Spaling, and they had a young defenseman on each of their three pairings – but a team that boasts a starting line of Crosby, Perron, and Chris Kunitz is one with plenty of firepower.

While the defensive match-ups certainly worked against the first line tonight, as the Hawks knew Pittsburgh’s offensive threat didn’t lie with team’s bottom-nine, the Pens are not going to win many games when their only goal-scorers are Sill and Downie.

Going 0 for 2 on the powerplay (which still features some pretty elite scorers even without Malkin and Letang) surely didn’t help the team either.

Despite the loss, the Pens can at least be glad they got some rare depth scoring tonight, allowing them to escape the Chicago game with one point instead of a goose-egg.

Luckily, they’ll have an extended break over All-Star weekend to rest up and get healthy before they face the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 27th.