Penguins battle back twice but lose to Chicago in a shootout
Marc-Andre Fleury deflects the puck away from the goal after a shot by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period Sunday in Chicago. Fleury had 29 saves but the Blackhawks won in a shootout.
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CHICAGO -- With the game going to a shootout, Craig Adams had a quick conference with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury on the Penguins bench Sunday at United Center. Adams is a former member of the Chicago Blackhawks, so he had some tips to offer.
Adams went over Jonathan Toews, whom Fleury stopped with his right pad. He talked about Patrick Sharp, who was stopped by a Fleury poke-check.
"I didn't tell him anything about [Patrick] Kane," Adams said. "He's obviously so shifty. I wouldn't want to get in a goalie's head about him doing one thing or another. He's just looking for openings."
Kane, the third shooter for Chicago, found that opening after switching from forehand to backhand to forehand. He slipped the puck past Fleury's outstretched right leg to ice a 3-2 win for the Blackhawks.
- Matchup: Penguins vs. Washington Capitals, 7:38 p.m. today, Consol Energy Center.
- TV/radio, Internet: Versus, WXDX-FM (105.9),
- Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Michal Neuvirth for Capitals.
- Penguins: Are 11-3 vs. Southeast Division. ... Home power play, 16.5 percent, among NHL's worst. ... D Zbynek Michalek is two assists shy of 100 for career.
- Capitals: Are 8-2-4 vs. Atlantic Division. ... Are 2-2 in past 4 games, each decided by 1 goal. ... Have outscored opponents, 60-43, in third period.
- Hidden stat: The Penguins are 2-2-2 in past 6 games playing on second consecutive day after starting 5-0 in such situations.
"They have some good shooters," Fleury said. "It's tough to know what they're going to do. I tried to stick with [Kane] as long as possible, but he got me on that one."
Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford stopped Penguins shooters Kris Letang and Tyler Kennedy after Pascal Dupuis rang his shootout attempt off the left post.
If not for Kane, the Penguins might have offered up a few of their players as game heroes. They twice came back to tie the score, first on Matt Cooke's short-handed goal, and then on Brett Sterling's goal with 3:18 left in regulation to make it 2-2.
You can start with Fleury, who stopped 29 shots before the shootout. He made 12 saves in the first period, the only reason the Blackhawks held just a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission, on a goal by Sharp after a series of precision passes.
"They played, it felt like, 15, 16 minutes in the offensive zone, so to come out of the first period, 1-0, we'll take that," Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland said.
Fleury's one weaker moment came in the second minute of the third period, when Bryan Bicknell scored off of a long-range shot from high along the left-side boards for a 2-1 Chicago lead.
"It was off our defenseman's butt, and I missed it," Fleury said. "I would have loved to have that one back."
Late in overtime, Fleury made stellar saves on Chicago's Michael Frolik and Duncan Keith to set up the shootout.
The game would not have gotten to overtime if not for a group effort to get the Penguins' second tying goal
Defenseman Paul Martin started things by turning a delayed offside call into a scoring chance.
"I keep marveling at the play that leads to the goal," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Somehow he manages to keep the puck a foot outside the blue line, let everyone come out. Two or three guys are trying to get at it, and it allows us to get back in there."
Martin got the puck to Kennedy, who took one of his signature shots from the right dot. Crawford stopped that, but Jordan Staal, battling near the top of the crease, got his stick on the puck.
It trickled toward the bottom of the left circle, where Sterling rushed in and popped it into an open half of the net.
"We just throw the puck at the net, get a whack at it and bury the rebound," Engelland said. "That's the kind of goal we need."
The kind that Cooke produced at 13:52 of the second period to forge a 1-1 tie, with help from Max Talbot and Brooks Orpik, doesn't hurt, either.
Cooke returned after serving a four-game suspension handed down by the NHL for a hit from behind against Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin.
"It's fun to be back," said Cooke, who leads the NHL with six short-handed points. "You want to help your team win. You want to play. Sitting in the stands is tough, especially in the situation our group's in [with a ton of injuries], but we battled hard and got a point out of it."
Cooke's goal was set up on a double-your-effort play by Orpik. He blocked a shot with something akin to a poke-check and at the same time steered the puck to Talbot.
There seemed little chance Talbot was just going to clear the puck out of the zone. He and Cooke set off on a two-on-one breakaway with Chicago's Brent Seabrook defending. Talbot carried the puck down the right side and delivered a pass over Seabrook's stick. Cooke one-timed it past Crawford.
"I just had to put it in the empty net," Cooke said. "Him and I go a lot in game-day skates two-on-one with each other, so we're pretty familiar [with each other]."
Cooke uncharacteristically only had one hit, but his teammates filled the gap, finishing with 50, led by Orpik's seven.
Cooke also helped in a sticky situation when he drew a holding penalty in the neutral zone by former Penguins winger Marian Hossa with 30 seconds left in regulation and Chicago on a power play.
"That was a huge play," Bylsma said. "Everyone's tired at that point, but he moves his feet, draws the penalty."
First Published February 21, 2011 12:00 am