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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Penguins fall to Blackhawks in shootout, 3-2

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The Penguins Jersey didn’t just need a victory Wednesday night.
They needed a two-point tourniquet.
They didn’t get it.
But the Penguins salvaged a point in their 3-2 shootout loss against Chicago at Consol Energy Center. And under some pretty difficult circumstances, at that, so the defeat didn’t sting nearly as much as some others in the recent past have.
The Penguins were missing two of their core players, defenseman Kris Letang and center Evgeni Malkin, both of whom were injured in the Penguins’ 3-2 overtime loss Tuesday in Philadelphia, and had to rally after spotting the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead.

“We showed a lot of heart coming back,” winger Beau Bennett said. “It was good to get a point.”
Even so, the Penguins enter the NHL’s all-star break in an 0-2-2 skid. They are 26-12-8 and trail the first-place New York Islanders by three points in the Metropolitan Division.
Those numbers would have been at least a little better if they’d managed to beat the Blackhawks Jersey in the shootout.
“We were right there,” defenseman Paul Martin said. “It could have easily been our game.”
Letang was hurt Tuesday when a check by Philadelphia’s Zac Rinaldo drove his head into the glass. Letang has been tested for a concussion, but the results were not immediately announced.
The nature of Malkin’s injury is not known, and he was something of a surprise scratch. He participated in warm-ups, but did not stay on the ice until the end of them, as he usually does.
Malkin’s status for the NHL All-Star Game Sunday in Columbus is not known. He is scheduled to represent the Penguins there, along with center Sidney Crosby and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Penguins rallied from a 2-0 deficit to take the game to overtime, but once it reached a shootout, Chicago brought things to an abrupt end.
Jonathan Toews Jersey and Patrick Kane scored on Fleury, while Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford denied David Perron and Crosby.
Chicago defenseman David Rundblad got the only goal of the opening period, when he capped a period of sustained pressure in the Penguins’ end by beating Fleury from the right point. Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad, a Gibsonia native, was positioned in front of Fleury when Rundblad scored.
Being undermanned and falling behind a quality opponent like Chicago put the Penguins in a tough spot, and their outlook dimmed considerably when Marian Hossa of the Blackhawks scored on a power play at 2:41 of the second to make it 2-0.
Hossa, with a screen from Bryan Bickell, whipped a wrist shot past Fleury from high in the right circle.
The goal could have deflated the Penguins — might have, even — but they were revived by a most unlikely source less than three minutes later.
Zach Sill, who had not scored a goal in his previous 51 NHL games, made it 2-1 at 5:21 by throwing a high shot by Crawford.
“It’s nice to finally get that,” Sill said. “It wasn’t the bang-bang around the net that I was kind of expecting it to be.”
Just four games earlier, Sill had recorded his first point in the league.
Andrew Ebbett, who likely would have been a healthy scratch for the sixth consecutive game if Malkin had been able to play, picked up the only assist.
After the fourth line produced the Penguins’ first goal, the No. 3 unit scored the one that pulled them even.
Steve Downie got it at 12:22, flipping a loose puck past Crawford from the right side of the crease for his eighth of the season.
That goal got the Penguins a point, if not the victory they craved.
“You can’t go from zero to 10 in one game,” Sill said.
“We’re working in the right direction. Tonight was a good sign.”

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