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Niemi, Blackhawks nip Penguins in OT, 2-1

Well, they got a point out of it.

In a quite frustrating but highly entertaining game between two teams that you’d think are division rivals, the Blackhawks got an overtime goal by Kris Versteeg to defeat the Penguins, 2-1.

Blackhawks’ backup goalie Antti Niemi got the start, and he didn’t disappoint, making several point-blank saves, as the Pens were fortunate to get a point of the game, coming after Jordan Staal’s goal with only 1:32 left in regulation.

It was the Pens’ first overtime/shootout loss of the season.

It was one of those strange games that the puck literally wasn’t bouncing for the Pens.  The Pens hit 2 or 3 goalposts and pucks bounced on prime scoring chances.  But mostly it was the play of Niemi, who continued to frustrate the Penguins throughout the game.

Of course, the Penguins could’ve used the services of captain Sidney Crosby, who missed the matchup against the Blackhawks for the second game in a row with a sore groin.

The most controversial play of the game came after Matt Cooke laid a solid, but quite legal, hit on Hawks’ defenseman Duncan Keith.  At the other end of the ice, Keith retaliated with a blind-side hit on Cooke to the head.  Keith was only given a two-minute minor for interference, which incensed Cooke.  For those that enjoyed to see Cooke get suspended for his hit against the Rangers, it’s only fair that Keith be given the same suspension.

The Hawks got on the board first with a fortunate bounce of the puck in the first period.  With teams playing 4-on-4, Brian Campbell fired a slapper from the left point that Marc-Andre Fleury stopped, but the rebound went off the body of former Penguin Marian Hossa and directly down to his feet, where he was able to tap it in the net before the net was dislodged to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead at 7:37.

It stayed that way until the waning minutes when the Penguins pulled Fleury.  With the extra attacker, Malkin fired a slapper from center point, but the shot deflected off the body of Brent Seabrook.  Staal grabbed the loose puck and banged it past Niemi to tie the game at 1-1 at 18:28.

That got the Penguins the point and the game into overtime, but Campbell threw the puck on net, where Versteeg was able to bang the loose puck to the far side into the net for the 2-1 Hawks win.

Notes:
- I’d be remiss if I didn’t give credit for drawing up the play that led to the game-tying goal to Pens assistant coach Mike Yeo.  He still is in my doghouse on the powerplay, though.
- For someone who woke up in his Wilkes-Barre bed this morning, Mark Letestu played one helluva game.  He made some outstanding passes, hit the post, won a critical faceoff on the game-tying goal and didn’t look out of place at all.  If I may quote Pens’ blogger “Pensexperience”, who said “Letestu did more in one game than Bourque did in his entire time in Pittsburgh.”  Maybe a tad bit harsh, but probably true.
- Malkin must’ve turned down five shots in order to make the extra pass.  That’s really frustrating to watch.
- The best attribute of Hossa that I miss ??  Without a doubt, it’s his backchecking.  He’s outstanding at it.
- For as chippy of a game that it was, the Penguins got a whole 23 seconds of powerplay time.  The Hawks didn’t get that much more, three times for a total of 4:23.  The officials definitely let them play tonight.
- The Pens missed Crosby in the faceoff circle, only winning 41 percent of the draws.  Letestu did win 9-of-16, though.
- Four blocked shots for Martin Skoula led the Pens.
- Kris Letang led the Pens in hits with seven.

The Penguins will now host the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night at the Igloo.

Filed in: , | The Confluence | Permalink
  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, nhl-hockey, pittsburgh+penguins

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About The Confluence

Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.

Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.

I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes.  I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.

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