Blackhawks end Penguins' winning streak at 8 games
By DAN SCIFO, Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks gave Pittsburgh a head start — and still grounded the surging Penguins.
Dylan Strome broke a tie 1:48 into the third period and the Blackhawks beat Pittsburgh 5-3 on Sunday night to end the Penguins’ winning streak at eight games.
“We’re not going to quit, we’re going to play until the end,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “It certainly wasn’t the start we wanted, we kind of gifted a couple, but credit to those guys in there. I was really happy with how hard we competed and it was nice to see the guys get rewarded.”
Strome scored seconds after a power-play expired, beating fallen goalie Casey DeSmith off a pass from Patrick Kane. Jonathan Toews added an empty-net goal and had an assist to run his points streak to six games.
Alex DeBrincat scored on a power play for his 19th of the season, and Chris Kunitz and Duncan Keith both scored their first for the Blackhawks. They won their 10th straight against the Penguins, including five straight in Pittsburgh. The Blackhawks haven’t lost to the Penguins since March 30, 2014, in Pittsburgh.
“Considering (Pittsburgh) won eight in a row coming into the game, they’ve obviously been feeling pretty good about themselves,” Kane said. “I think it’s a team we can kind of compare ourselves too as far as what happened in the past and different history, so a lot of us get excited to play these guys.”
Chicago snapped a two-game skid and has won three of five and six of nine following an eight-game losing streak in November.
Kane had three assists. He’s the 20th player in NHL history and the first American-born skater to begin his career with at least 12 straight seasons with 30-plus assists. Cam Ward stopped 31 shots.
“It’s nice to beat one of the top teams in the league,” Kane said. “I think we know the recipe for success, the way we need to play and the way the coaches want us to play to be successful. If we do these things, we give ourselves a chance every night.”
Jake Guentzel, Patric Hornqvist and Derick Brassard scored for the Penguins, and DeSmith stopped 26 shots.
Pittsburgh scored twice in the first 4:33.
Hornqvist opened the scoring at 2:43 with a blocker-side, one-timer from the right faceoff dot, and Guentzel gave Pittsburgh a two-goal lead when he swept a rebound underneath Ward from the top of the crease.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was happy with his team’s start, but he said his players were “lured into a track meet” the rest of the way against the Blackhawks.
“(Chicago) has a quick transition game and they like to stretch the ice,” Sullivan said. “They’re looking for a quick-strike attack, so you have to make sure you manage the puck. If you don’t take care of the puck, you’re going to play into their hands and play the game they want to play.”
DeBrincat put Chicago on the board with a power-play goal. He scored his eighth goal in 13 games on a one-timer from Kane.
Kunitz tied it for Chicago at 6:46 of the second period. Kunitz, who won three Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, scored on a night when the Penguins honored their 2009 Stanley Cup championship team.
“Building good friendships and having those good memories is something you never forget,” Kunitz said.
The Penguins regained the lead at 9:49 of the second when Brassard squeezed a one-timer from Phil Kessel between Ward’s pads from the right circle. Keith tied it at 3 with a slap shot from the left point just as a power play expired.
“I think that was a real positive, finding a way to get back into it, crawl back into it, take the lead and keep it,” Keith said. “We worked hard and got what we deserved.”
NOTES: Penguins’ D Kris Letang played in his 722nd career game, tied with Rick Kehoe for sixth on the franchise list. Letang’s assist gives him a seven-game points streak. … Chicago D Erik Gustafsson has a five-game points streak after registering an assist. . F Drake Caggiula made his Blackhawks debut after he was acquired in a trade with Edmonton on Dec. 31. … Penguins D Justin Schultz, who has not played since Oct. 13, skated on his own for the first time before Pittsburgh’s practice Saturday.
Blackhawks: Host Calgary on Monday night.
Penguins: Host Florida on Tuesday night.
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