Blackhawks rally to end Penguins’ run at eight games

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By generating a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into Sunday’s game, it looked like the Pittsburgh Penguins would cruise to their ninth consecutive win, ending a run of futility against the Chicago Blackhawks in the process.

Pittsburgh’s losing ways against the Blackhawks ended up continuing instead, as Chicago won 5-3. The Blackhawks have now won 10 straight games against the Penguins.

Patrick Kane dished out three assists in this one, including Alex DeBrincat‘s goal to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-1 in the first period, and Dylan Strome‘s game-winner. There was some great puck movement on that Strome goal:

After former Penguin Chris Kunitz tied things up at 2-2, the Penguins gained another lead after Derick Brassard finished on a great Phil Kessel pass, but that would be the last time Pittsburgh would end up beating Cam Ward in this game. Kane’s playmaking ways paved the way for an impressive milestone:

This loss saw the end of a personal six-game point streak for Sidney Crosby, who went without a goal and an assist after rattling off three goals and 10 assists for 13 points during that span.

The Blackhawks were only credited with going 1-for-3 on the power play, but Duncan Keith‘s goal came mere moments after a man advantage ended. Combine that with Pittsburgh going 0-for-3 (including some 5-on-3 time), and it’s clear that special teams went Chicago’s way.

Keith’s teammates would remind you that he hasn’t scored many goals lately, with that being his first in 2018-19 after scoring only two last season.

The Capitals, Blue Jackets, and Islanders all won their most recent games, so updated versions of various Metro races look quite a bit worse for the Penguins:

1. Capitals: 25-12-4 for 54 points, 41 GP, 22 ROW
2. Penguins: 23-13-6 for 52 points, 42 GP, 22 ROW
3. Blue Jackets: 24-14-3 for 51 points, 41 GP, 24 ROW
4. Islanders: 23-13-4 for 50 points, 40 GP, 21 ROW

It’s tough to imagine the Blackhawks rallying to a spot in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, yet they’ve been picking up steam lately, going 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. If nothing else, contending teams shouldn’t look at them as an easy two points when they see the Blackhawks on their schedules.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Penguins host Blackhawks on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday night’s matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Penguins are one of the hottest teams in the league, with wins in eight straight games. They defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 on Friday night in a 33-save shutout by Matt Murray. After struggling to start the year and missing time with an injury, Murray has now won seven in a row, matching the best stretch of his career.

Sidney Crosby is riding a six-game point streak (3G, 10A) and has 51 points (19G-32A) in 38 games this season, a 1.34 points per game clip. He hasn’t had a scoring rate that high in a full season since 2009-10 (1.35 ppg). He’ll skate in his 903rd career regular-season game as he closes in on Mario Lemieux’s franchise record (915 GP).

Kris Letang has also tallied a point in six straight games (3G, 6A) and is leading the team in time on ice per game during the winning streak (26:16).

Erik Gustafsson leads all Blackhawks defensemen with 23 points and eight goals, both of which are already career highs for the 26-year-old, who is in his third NHL season. Jeremy Colliton scratched Gustafsson on December 2, and since being benched, Gustafsson has responded with 12 points (4G, 8A) in 13 games.

Gustafsson has been on the top pair with Duncan Keith while Henri Jokiharju is at World Juniors. He has also been the primary point man on the power play unit.

“He’s got the world at his feet if he wants…we push him because we know he can do it,” said Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton. “At times, he does do it, as far as his gap and being aggressive to get pucks back, and being physical at times, and even better around his own net. He can do it. It’s not a question of ability. It’s a question of committing to it. So it’s an easy decision to try to hold him accountable, because he can give us so much.”

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Chicago Blackhawks at Pittsburgh Penguins
Where: PPG Paints Arena
When: Sunday, Jan. 6, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Blackhawks-Penguins stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

BLACKHAWKS
Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsDominik Kahun
Artem AnisimovDylan StromePatrick Kane
Alex DeBrincatDavid KampfBrendan Perlini
Chris KunitzMarcus KrugerDrake Caggiula

Duncan Keith – Erik Gustafsson
Gustav ForslingBrent Seabrook
Carl DahlstromConnor Murphy

Starting goalie: Cam Ward

PENGUINS
Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Bryan Rust
Dominik SimonEvgeni MalkinPatric Hornqvist
Tanner PearsonDerick BrassardPhil Kessel
Riley SheahanMatt CullenZach Aston-Reese

Brian Dumoulin – Kris Letang
Marcus PetterssonJack Johnson
Olli MaattaJuuso Riikola

Starting goalie: Casey DeSmith

MORE: Kris Letang is playing the best hockey of his career

WATCH LIVE: Islanders host Blackhawks at Nassau Coliseum

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Thursday night’s matchup between the New York Islanders and Chicago Blackhawks with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Blackhawks will try to rebound after yet another outdoor defeat, as the Islanders look to continue their pursuit of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Islanders have 44 games remaining this season, 18 of which will be played at Nassau Coliseum. The team left the Coliseum for Barclays Center at the end of the 2014-15 season. They plan to move into a new facility at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, for the start of the 2021-22 season.

The Islanders have been one of the biggest surprises in the Eastern Conference and are very much alive in the playoff race. New York has won of seven of their last eight games, including four straight.

There’s been no sophomore slump for Mathew Barzal, who took home the Calder Trophy last season behind 85 points and 63 assists, which were fifth most in the league. He has been particularly hot lately, riding a five-game point streak (6G, 3A).

Meanwhile, Chicago has scored first in eight of their past 10 games, after allowing the first goal in each of their previous 11 games.

Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton was a second round draft pick by the Islanders in 2003 (by then Isles GM Mike Milbury) and played all 57 games of his NHL career in an Islanders sweater. He was also the former captain of the team’s AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Chicago Blackhawks at New York Islanders
Where: Nassau Coliseum
When: Thursday, Jan. 3, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Islanders-Blackhawks stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

BLACKHAWKS
Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsDominik Kahun
Artem AnisimovDylan StromePatrick Kane
Alex DeBrincatDavid KampfDylan Sikura
Brendan PerliniMarcus KrugerAndreas Martinsen

Duncan KeithErik Gustafsson
Gustav ForslingBrent Seabrook
Carl DahlstromConnor Murphy

Starting goalie: Collin Delia

ISLANDERS
Anthony Beauvillier – Mathew Barzal – Josh Bailey
Anders LeeBrock NelsonJosh Ho-Sang
Michael Dal Colle – Leo Komarov – Tom Kuhnhackl
Matt MartinCasey CizikasCal Clutterbuck

Nick LeddyJohnny Boychuk
Adam PelechRyan Pulock
Devon ToewsScott Mayfield

Starting goalie: Robin Lehner

Bruins beat Blackhawks in 2019 Winter Classic

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Aside from a slipping mascot or two, everything came together just about perfectly heading into the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium. Luckily, the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins delivered some fantastic hockey after all of that pomp, circumstance, and pyro.

The Bruins ended up winning the Winter Classic 4-2 in one of the best-played outdoor games, kicking off 2019 in such a great way that even Blackhawks fans can remember it as a good time.

Although, we might also be getting to the point where someone may float some talk of an outdoor “curse” for the Blackhawks:

An empty-netter inflated the difference between the two teams, as this was a competitive contest, and if the conditions limited the skill on display in any way, the impact was subtle. The pace was fabulous, and the goalies had to be too, as the two teams combined for 74 shots on goal.

In some outdoor games, you’ll see some unlikely heroes, and the 2019 Winter Classic did not disappoint in that regard.

To start, Brendan Perlini began the scoring to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. Dominik Kahun also restored a Blackhawks lead to 2-1, but it was a lesser-known Bruin who made the difference, as Sean Kuraly batted home a loose puck with his backhand to extend his game-winning goal streak to two games.

As you’d expect from one of the best top lines in hockey, the Bruins enjoyed some strong work from their top guys, too.

David Pastrnak scored a goal and an assist, Brad Marchand nabbed that empty-netter, and Patrice Bergeron was, well, Patrice Bergeron. In one of the turning points of the game, Bergeron defused a David Kampf shorthanded breakaway chance, then scored on the power play:

There were plenty of “that’s why Bergeron owns the Selke”-type responses to that great two-way sequence, and those takes are pretty much undeniable.

While the Bruins’ power play connected on its first two power-play opportunities, the Blackhawks can take some solace in their penalty kill coming through during the third period. Boston received a hearty 5-on-3 opportunity and another power play soon after, yet they could not break the 2-2 tie.

Kuraly’s alert goal ended up being the difference, anyway, but at least Chicago could take something from this loss.

Both teams likely hope the veteran goalies might build some confidence. Tuukka Rask made 36 saves in the win, while Cam Ward enjoyed one of his better appearances since joining the Blackhawks, stopping 32 of 35 shots.

Overall, you can’t really ask for a much better NHL game considering the unpredictable nature of … nature. And yes, it’s OK to have the Notre Dame fight song in your head for the rest of the day.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: 2019 Winter Classic – Blackhawks vs. Bruins

NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the 2019 Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET from Notre Dame Stadium. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Both teams enter with momentum having each won 3-2 in OT on Saturday. The Bruins snapped a two-game losing streak with a come-from-behind win against the Buffalo Sabres, while the Blackhawks surrendered a 2-0 lead vs. the Colorado Avalanche before rebounding to win on Patrick Kane’s OT goal – his 50th point of the season.

The Blackhawks are one of five teams that have already fired their head coach this season, after the 2017-18 season saw zero coaches fired during the regular season. Jeremy Colliton has the worst record among the newly appointed coaches, though the team’s play has improved of late

It has been hard for Patrick Kane to replicate the chemistry he had with Artemi Panarin – a combination that led to the two most productive seasons of Kane’s career. Hawks fans are hoping he could be headed towards similar success with Dylan Strome, who was acquired from Arizona in late-November and has settled in on Kane’s line along with Artem Anisimov.

Kane enters this game coming off back-to-back three-point games (hat trick on Thursday, 2G-1A on Saturday), and he’s averaging 1.25 points/game this season. That’s the secnd-most productive rate of his career, behind his MVP-winning season in 2015-16 (1.29 ppg). Strome has 13 points in 17 games with Chicago, including three straight multi-point games entering the Winter Classic.

The Bruins have kept themselves afloat in the first half of the season despite a rash of injuries to top players. It appeared that the team would have a fully healthy lineup for the first time all year coming out of the Christmas break, but Charlie McAvoy suffered a lower-body injury in the final game before the break, and has missed both games since. Brad Marchand also missed Saturday’s game, but he will play Tuesday afternoon. McAvoy will not.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 1 P.M. ET – NBC]

What: Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks
Where: Notre Dame Stadium
When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET
TV: NBC
Live stream: You can watch the Blackhawks-Bruins stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

BRUINS
Brad Marchand – Patrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak
Jake DeBruskDavid Krejci – Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson
Danton HeinenSean KuralyChris Wagner
Joakim NordstromColby CaveNoel Acciari / Ryan Donato

Zdeno CharaBrandon Carlo
Torey KrugJohn Moore
Matt GrzelcykKevan Miller

Starting goalie: Tuukka Rask

BLACKHAWKS
Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsDominik Kahun
Artem Anisimov – Dylan Strome – Patrick Kane
Alex DeBrincatDavid KampfDylan Sikura
John HaydenMarcus KrugerBrendan Perlini

Duncan KeithErik Gustafsson
Gustav ForslingBrent Seabrook
Carl DahlstromConnor Murphy

Starting goalie: Cam Ward

Mike Tirico will host the network’s Winter Classic pre-game coverage alongside the NHL Live studio team of host Kathryn Tappen, and analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick. Six-time Emmy Award-winner and La Fontaine, Ind., native Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Eddie Olczyk, and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Pierre McGuire will have the call from Notre Dame Stadium.