On paper, a Chicago Blackhawks – Pittsburgh Penguins matinee screams finesse and high-end skill. It’s not to say there was a total deficit in either on Sunday, but Chicago also earned a 2-1 shootout win thanks to “sandpaper” and strong goaltending.
Corey Crawford earned his 23rd win of the season (and fourth in five games) by stopping 36 out of 37 shots.
Marc-Andre Fleury couldn’t overcome some dazzling shootout work from Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, but he was strong in regulation, turning aside all but one of the 32 shots he faced.
For teams that rarely see each other, there was a decent amount of bitterness in the air.
Maybe most memorably, Andrew Shaw caught a comically bruised Paul Martin with a big hit at the end of regulation.
There also seemed to be some competitive tension between Toews and Sidney Crosby:
One could argue that the Penguins carried some of the play with a slight shot and possession advantage:
The Blackhawks and Penguins largely find themselves where they were entering Sunday. The Penguins remain close – but still behind – the New York Islanders for the Metropolitan Division lead while the Blackhawks at least stay in the running for the Central Division crown.
In a way the game captured the two teams as they’re still showing promise, yet they also have some work to do to regain their all-world form.