Blackhawks 2, Penguins 1, OT

Kris Versteeg’s timely goal gave Antti Niemi a well-deserved

win.

Versteeg scored 2:38 into overtime, Niemi stopped 32 of 33

shots, and the Chicago Blackhawks snapped the Pittsburgh Penguins’

five-game home winning streak with a 2-1 victory Saturday

night.

Versteeg took a pass from Brian Campbell, while standing in

front of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and had his initial

shot stopped. He got the rebound and knocked it past Fleury for his

ninth goal. That lifted Chicago to its 10th win in 13 games

(10-2-1).

“Anytime you go to the net, you’re going to have to take a

hit,” Versteeg said. “I just was fortunate the puck kind of

bounced out to me again.”

Former Penguins forward Marian Hossa, booed every time he

touched the puck, scored 7:37 into the game. It was his third goal

in six games with the Blackhawks since he returned from a shoulder

injury.

Jordan Staal tied it for Pittsburgh with 1:32 left in regulation

after Niemi had stopped the Penguins’ first 31 shots. Niemi, the

backup to Cristobal Huet, fell just short of his third shutout in

six starts this season.

“We just talked about how well he’s played and he deserves

maybe a little more ice time,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville

said. “But it’s nice to know that the tandem we have, the one-two

punch is strong. He was great. It was a goalie win and he looked

big, he looked confident, he found the puck. No rebounds, and he

was in control.

“It was a pretty intense game.”

The Penguins played without captain Sidney Crosby, who sat out

because of a sore groin. Crosby had seven goals and four assists in

his previous three games, all Pittsburgh victories.

Even without him, the talented teams had a bevy of young stars

trading chances in an entertaining and physical game. There was a

playoff feel in the matchup of two clubs with the second-best

records in their conferences.

“It was a big game for both teams to prove themselves,” Staal

said. “Us coming into this game, we wanted to prove we could play

with this team. We heard a lot about them and wanted to show them

our best.”

Hossa has been a villain in Pittsburgh since he left the

Penguins and signed with the Detroit Red Wings two summers ago.

Upon joining the Red Wings, the team that beat the Penguins in the

2008 Stanley Cup finals, Hossa said Detroit gave him the better

chance to win a title.

Hossa’s early goal Saturday almost stood up.

After Patrick Kane used his speed to gain the zone, Campbell

took a shot from above the left circle. The rebound bounced off

Fleury’s chest and fell at the feet of Hossa, who came in from the

right wing and scored.

“This is a huge win,” Hossa said. “Obviously, we know how

strong a team they have. We know (Crosby) didn’t play, but without

that key player they still have a talented team and they proved it.

It was a tight defensive game, but we found a way to win, even when

they scored last minute.

“It was a great game to watch.”

Niemi was 1:32 away from making Hossa’s goal stand until Evgeni

Malkin’s shot from the point hit a Chicago defenseman. The puck

deflected right to Staal, who slammed it into an open net for his

eighth of the season and second in two games.

“(Assistant coach) Mike Yeo had drawn up the play with a couple

different options,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “(Sergei)

Gonchar made a great play and got it back to Malkin, and Staal was

wide there going to the net and either looking for a pass or a

rebound. And that’s exactly what he got.

“You don’t often get the opportunity to execute on of those

faceoff plays, and we got one for a big point.”

Pittsburgh, which came in having won three straight, six of

seven and eight of 10, fell to 16-2-1 when having at least 30

shots.

Without Crosby, the Penguins had won 11 of their previous 14 –

and seven consecutive at home – but they fell to 21-11-7 when he is

out of the lineup.

“We came into this arena with high expectations of wanting to

win,” Versteeg said. “I think it was an exciting game. There were

not too many goals, which is not very characteristic of these two

teams. Overall, it was a well-played game on both sides.

“To come in and beat the Stanley Cup champs is special.”

NOTES: It was Chicago’s first win in Pittsburgh since Feb. 22,

1997. … Staal played in his 250th consecutive game, the

fourth-longest streak in team history. … The Blackhawks improved

to 16-3-3 when scoring first, 11-1-1 when leading after one period,

and 10-1 after 2. … The Penguins had only 23 seconds of

power-play time.