Panthers run into streaking Blackhawks
By Dan Scifo
The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — It was an adventurous night for Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford.
Crawford briefly left the game in the second period after a collision. He returned and was interfered with during an apparent tying goal that was waved off and then stood firm during a late surge to secure the win.
Crawford’s strong play allowed Artem Anisimov’s third-period power-play goal to stand as the game-winner, and the Blackhawks continued their winning streak against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 2-1 victory on Saturday night.
“I like the response out there,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “(Crawford) had his bell rung a little bit, and (the Penguins) had some great looks at the end. We felt good after that interference call, he made a key save in the dying seconds and we found a way.”
Anisimov scored his 10th goal of the season just 21 seconds after Pittsburgh tied the game. Gustav Forsling scored his second for the Blackhawks, who won their eighth straight against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins.
The Blackhawks, with five power-play goals in their last three games, have won three of their last four after taking two of their previous seven.
Crawford made 35 saves for Chicago, including a right-pad stop on Phil Kessel in the final 20 seconds.
“They got the puck in the slot and instead of shooting it, he fed it over,” Crawford said. “I just kind of dove over there. I don’t know how it stayed out, but that’s a good thing.”
In the second, Crawford left the crease to cover the puck, and the Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin clipped him in the head and was assessed an interference penalty. Anton Forsberg entered the game and didn’t face a shot until Crawford returned nearly three minutes later.
“I think it was more precautionary,” Crawford said of his brief departure. “I don’t think we were too worried. It was only a couple minutes. It wasn’t bad at all.”
Matt Hunwick scored his second of the season, a short-handed goal, for Pittsburgh. He missed the previous 15 games with a concussion.
The Penguins haven’t defeated Chicago since a 4-1 victory in Pittsburgh on March 30, 2014. Pittsburgh has lost seven of its past 11 games, but the prior six losses were on the road. The Penguins had won six in a row at home and took their first home loss in regulation this season.
Matt Murray stopped 36 shots for Pittsburgh, which has allowed eight power-play goals in the last five games.
“We can’t continue to give up a goal or two goals on the penalty kill night in and night out and expect to win,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
Hunwick tied the game at 8:00 of the third period with the second short-handed goal of his career. Hunwick’s harmless-looking backhander deflected off the stick defenseman Duncan Keith and between Crawford’s legs.
Anisimov put Chicago back in front 21 seconds later when he corralled a puck off the end boards and tucked it behind Murray. Anisimov, who recorded his first career hat trick Wednesday against the New York Rangers, scored his ninth goal in nine games.
The Penguins thought they had the equalizer when Jake Guentzel put a wrist shot behind Crawford with 8:27 to play. But the goal was overturned after it was determined that Olli Maatta interfered with Crawford.
“It looked like interference live and the replay verified it,” Quenneville said.
The Blackhawks routed Pittsburgh, 10-1, in Chicago on Oct. 5, the second night of the regular season. Murray, in the second game of a back-to-back, allowed six goals on 31 shots after relieving former backup Antti Niemi in the first period of Chicago’s season opener.
Chicago controlled the first period on Saturday, but only had one goal to show for it.
The Blackhawks hit two posts, Nick Schmaltz and Jonathan Toews couldn’t convert breakaways, and Riley Sheahan made a sliding stop on Patrick Sharp along the side of a partially empty net to prevent a goal.
Forsling had the lone goal of the period, scored on the power play when he squeezed a wrist shot through Murray’s pads.
Notes: Chicago and Pittsburgh have combined to win six of the last nine Stanley Cups. … Blackhawks rookie forward Alex DeBrincat has six points during a four-game point streak. … Maatta played after missing the team’s morning skate with an undisclosed illness. Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel was scratched for Pittsburgh. … Keith played after missing practice the past two days with an undisclosed illness. … The Penguins held a moment of silence for Brian Shaw, a local police officer who was killed during a traffic stop on Friday.
Chicago: Continues a stretch of eight straight against Eastern Conference opponents Wednesday at Tampa Bay.
Pittsburgh: Plays consecutive home games for the second time this season Wednesday against Vancouver.