NHL on NBC: Blackhawks, Penguins try to build momentum


NBC continues its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins at the United Center at 12:30 pm ET today. In addition to NBC, you can also watch the game online.

Despite being among the NHL’s gold-standard franchises, the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins don’t meet all that often. When they do, it’s quite the treat, and hockey fans can check out their latest meeting on NBC.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Blackhawks bested the Penguins 3-2 via a shootout. Pittsburgh’s a much healthier team today than they were then, as Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin were unable to play on Jan. 21.

To point out the obvious, this game should be a star-studded affair. Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury join Letang and Malkin as Pittsburgh’s potent stalwarts. Chicago remains loaded with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa.

Hossa’s noteworthy beyond his very-brief status as a Penguin, as he has seven goals in his last four games.

One would think that both teams hope this contest will be a springboard for a strong finish to the regular season.

February has gone really well for Pittsburgh so far. They’ve won four of six games since a rocky month of January ended, including two straight contests. They also should be well-rested since they haven’t played since Thursday and only dealt with two games this week.

The Blackhawks’ efforts have been solid-to-good (at least from a shots perspective), yet their results have been a little frustrating. They’ve split their six games in February and are just 5-3-2 in their last 10 games.

In other words, these two teams have struggled – at least compared to their typically elite work – but there are plenty of reasons to believe that they can kick things up a notch before the games get a lot bigger. We might just see a little bit of that this afternoon.

Blackhawks’ Quenneville on Hossa: ‘He’s got that touch’


Following Friday’s 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils Marian Hossa joked that he hasn’t been this hot since his junior days with the Portland Winterhawks.

Hossa now has seven goals and an assist in four games and Chicago has picked up points in all four.

“Seems like things are going in for me so I try to put the puck at the net,” said Hossa. “I try to use my speed right now and obviously when got more confidence, more things can happen offensively.”

Prior to his current stretch, Hossa had just two goals in 15 games.

“On fire,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Hossa. “He’s got it going. He’s got that touch.”

Hossa along with linemates Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad have combined for nine goals and eight assists in the four games

“I think right now Johnny, me and (Saad) we’re having lots of chances so we just continue to put the puck at the net,” said Hossa. “We try to do more things obviously when you have more confidence the puck is with you and you try to do a little more.

“At the same time, you try to keep things simple and put the puck at the net.”

The Blackhawks remain four points back of St. Louis for second spot in the Central Division. The Blues also have a game in hand.

Quenneville is keeping his expectations realistic with 26 games remaining.

“We always think we’d love to be in first place in our division, a lot comes with that, but at the same time, we’ve got to shoot for reality, and that’d be St. Louis,” he said. “And we’ve got work to do.”

Video: Daniel Sedin nets the OT winner as the Canucks top the Blackhawks


Vancouver blew a 4-2 third period lead in Chicago Wednesday night, but Daniel Sedin scored the overtime-winner as the Canucks edged the Blackhawks 5-4.

“I thought we played well,” said Daniel Sedin. “They came back in the [third], but I thought we stuck with the game plan for 60 minutes and it paid off in the end. I mean, we got the two points.”

Linden Vey, Bo Horvat and Zack Kassian scored second period goals to erase a 1-0 Blackhawks lead. Kassian’s marker gives him goals in three straight games for the first time since Jan. 20-25, 2013.

Marian Hossa pulled the Blackhawks to within one with his first of the night at 12:48 of the third.

After Daniel Sedin restored the two-goal lead, Brandon Saad got Chicago to 4-3 with just over two minutes remaining.

Hossa tied it 4-4 with 55 seconds left in the final frame to force overtime.

Patrick Kane had the other Chicago goal. Kane also had two assists in the loss and now has a league-leading 62 points.

“Obviously, we weren’t happy with our game tonight, but it was nice to figure out a way to get it to overtime,” said Duncan Keith, who assisted on Saad’s late third period goal. “We know we’re a tough team to play against when our backs [are] up against the wall, but you never want to let it get like that.”

Henrik Sedin, Luca Sbisa and Chris Higgins each had two assists in the win.

Corey Crawford made 31 saves in the loss.

Eddie Lack improved to 5-6-2 on the season with a 37 save performance.

Chicago is now winless in the first two games of its eight-game home stand.

Vancouver has won both meetings with Chicago this season. The two clubs meet for a third and final time on April 2.

Video: Toews sets up Hossa with a perfect backhand pass


It was almost as if this goal came almost out of nowhere.

Jonathan Toews set up Marian Hossa for the opening goal of Monday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes with a perfect backhand pass from the corner.

Toews found a loose puck in the corner and fed it out front to a wide open Hossa, who was cruising into the slot, for his 13th of the season. You know, that whole thing about going to the net with the stick on the ice, good things happen. The Blackhawks and Coyotes were tied 1-1 after 40 minutes.

Video: Hossa, Blackhawks double up the Blues


Marian Hossa scored twice as the Chicago Blackhawks doubled up the St. Louis Blues 4-2 Sunday afternoon.

Hossa’s first goal, midway through the third, stood to be the game-winner. He added the insurance marker into an empty net with 14 seconds remaining.

“I just tried to finish it,” said Hossa of his first goal. “That was a set play and I’m glad it worked.”

With the win, the Blackhawks move to within four points of the Blues for second spot in the Central Division. Chicago concluded its season-long seven game road trip with a 4-3-0 record.

Marcus Kruger and Bryan Bickell had the other Blackhawks goals. Brandon Saad had two assists.

“I think we stepped up a little bit, played better,” Kruger said of finishing the road trip with back-to-back wins. “We knew we were in a spot and we want to be in a different spot.”

Corey Crawford made 25 saves for the win.

Vladimir Tarasenko and David Backes had the Blues goals. Brian Elliott stopped 24 shots in the loss.

“I thought in the third period we looked tired, played tired,” said Blues’ coach Ken Hitchcock. “Whether it was what they did or what we did, I think a lot of it was us having to come back in the game. The whole game today, we had to mount a comeback. We ended up exerting a lot of energy, probably shortened our bench a little bit more than we normally do.”

Chicago has now won two straight against St. Louis.

The two teams meet up again April 5 in Chicago.