Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the Chicago Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
• Hawks look to enter break on a roll: Chicago entered last night’s game vs. Arizona having dropped 3 of its last 4 games, but the Hawks put up 51 shots in a 6-goal outburst to beat AZ 6-1 at United Center.
• Coach Joel Quenneville split up the normal All-Star pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on defense (Keith played w/ David Rundblad, and Seabrook w/ Niklas Hjalmarsson). He was pleased with the results: “I thought we had more balance, more consistency. It made the minutes more manageable across the board.”
• The Hawks also got important performances offensively:
• Andrew Shaw broke out of a 1-goal-in-22 games skid with 2 goals last night.
• Patrick Kane scored his 200th career goal and added 2 assists; he is now t-3rd in the NHL with 51 pts.
• Jonathan Toews snapped an 11-game goal drought.
• Rookie Teuvo Teravainen scored his 2nd NHL goal and added an assist – his 1st ever multi-point game.
• Penguins heading in the wrong direction: PIT is coming off a 3-2 (OT) loss in Philly last night, and the Pens have now dropped 3 straight (0-2-1 record) and 9 of their last 13 games (4-6-3 record).
• This skid over the last month has turned a 2-pt lead in the Metro Division to a 2nd-place standing, with a much tighter race:
• PIT’s fight-filled game with PHI: Defenseman Kris Letang – the team’s leader in TOI/G and 3rd-leading scorer – was checked from behind in the 1st period last night by PHI F Zac Rinaldo. Letang left the game and did not return, while Rinaldo was given a boarding major and a game misconduct.
• There were 4 fights in the 2nd period, and 93 combined PIM in the game.
• Letang underwent a concussion test, but the results were not divulged. His status for tonight is unknown.
• Rinaldo was offered an in-person hearing by the NHL for the hit, a CBA requirement if a potential suspension is to exceed 5 games. Rinaldo said after the game: “I changed the whole game, man. Who knows what woulda happened if I didn’t do what I did?”
CHICAGO TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• Patrick Kane has 9 points (3G-6A) in his last 6 games after 1 goal, 2 assists last night.
• With 51 points this season, Kane is t-3rd in the NHL in scoring, 5 points behind league-leader Jakub Voracek. The highest Kane has ever finished in the scoring race is 5th (lockout-shortened 2012-13 season).
• Kane is one of 4 players this season with 20+ goals and 20+ assists (T. Seguin, V. Tarasenko, J. Tavares).
• Jonathan Toews opened the scoring last night vs. AZ, extending his point streak to 6 games (1G-7A).
• He will be one of the two All-Star Captains this weekend, along with CBJ’s Nick Foligno.
• Career vs. PIT: 8 points (6G-2A) in 6 career games.
• Corey Crawford got the night off vs. AZ, and is likely starting tonight. He has lost two straight starts (8 goals against), and has played below his normal standard since injuring his foot at a concert at the start of December.
PITTSBURGH TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• Chris Kunitz scored shorthanded last night for his 500th career point.
• Kunitz career vs. CHI: 14 points (7G-7A) in 18 career games
• Evgeni Malkin had an assist last night, and now has 10 points (3G-7A) in last 8 games.\
• Sidney Crosby saw his 4-game point streak snapped last night, but he has 8 points (4G-4A), in his last 5 games.
• David Perron also had his 3-game point streak snapped last night, but he has 7 points (5G-2A) in 7 games with the team since being traded from EDM.
• Marc-Andre Fleury was given the night off last night. In his last action, he was pulled from the Penguins 5-2 loss vs. NYR on Sunday early in the 2nd period after allowing 4 goals on 17 shots.
• Fleury’s slump mirrors that of the team; since Dec. 22, he has won just 3 of 11 starts.
• Even though Fleury is on pace for over 65 starts, coach Mike Johnston denied that fatigue or overuse was a serious cause for his All-Star goaltender’s dip in performance: “It hasn’t been a concern for me. I watch him in practice and I watch him in games. Our games have been fairly spread out. There was a string there at Christmas where we had a lot and [backup Thomas Greiss] was out with the mumps. We probably played [Fleury] just a touch more, maybe one game more than we would have at that time.”
• Fleury is still on pace for a career year statistically, and has played especially well this season against the Western Conference in those 8 starts (7-1-0 record, 1.60 GAA, .947 SV%, 3 SO).