In 1992, the Pittsburgh Penguins swept the Chicago Blackhawks to
capture the franchise’s second Stanley Cup. Given how both teams
have performed so far this season, it’s not out of the realm of
possibility that they could meet again this coming spring.
In a possible championship preview, surging Sidney Crosby leads
the Penguins on Saturday night against a team that hopes its core
of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith can help the
Blackhawks post a rare win at Mellon Arena.
After hoisting the Cup last season with a thrilling seven-game
series win against Detroit, the Penguins (20-9-0) showed no signs
of a championship hangover as they won nine of their first 10.
However, that was followed by a 3-6-0 slide, which included a
season-high four-game losing streak and consecutive shutout
Since then, the Penguins have resumed playing like champions.
They’ve won eight of 10 – totaling 37 goals in the victories – to
move into a tie with Washington for first place in the Eastern
Crosby has been nothing short of dominant recently, with 11
points in his last three games. Last Saturday, he had a hat trick
and two assists in an 8-3 home win over the New York Rangers. Two
nights later at Madison Square Garden, Crosby scored twice and
added an assist as Pittsburgh swept the home-and-home set with a
He again had two goals and an assist Thursday as the Penguins
posted a 4-1 triumph over improving Colorado.
“He’s going great right now,” teammate Bill Guerin said of
Crosby, who leads Pittsburgh with 19 goals and 36 points. “And
that’s obviously great for our team.”
Crosby has two assists in two career games versus the Blackhawks
and didn’t play in the Penguins’ 5-4 overtime win on Feb. 27 in
Chicago because of a groin injury.
Another player who has been great for Pittsburgh of late is
Marc-Andre Fleury, who’s allowed 11 goals while winning six
straight starts. He’s 3-1-0 with a shutout and 2.93 goals-against
average in four career starts against the Blackhawks.
Stopping Crosby and beating Fleury could help Chicago (17-7-3)
solve its Steel City woes. Since October 1991, and including
postseason play, the Blackhawks are 1-9-1 with three ties in
Pittsburgh. With a 5-4 shootout loss in its most recent visit Feb.
14, 2007, Chicago fell to 0-4-1 with two ties since its last win
there Feb. 22, 1997 – nearly a decade earlier.
Another way the Blackhawks could help themselves is by keeping
the puck out of the net. Chicago has surrendered at least three
goals in 11 of its last 14 visits to Pittsburgh.
Cristobal Huet is 0-3-0 with a 3.59 goals-against average in his
last four games against the Penguins, but blanked them during his
only career start at Mellon Arena. He needed to make just 11 saves
Oct. 10, 2003, as Los Angeles posted a 3-0 win.
The Blackhawks will have to bounce back quickly after their
eight-game home winning streak was snapped with a 4-1 loss to
Nashville on Friday. Toews scored his seventh goal for Chicago in
his first game after signing a lucrative contract extension
Kane and Keith, also the recipients of long-term deals, didn’t
register a point. Kane had a team high-tying five shots on goal
while Keith logged more than 26 minutes.
“Tonight we tried to overdo some things, especially after
Jonathan scored,” Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell said. “We
maybe thought it was going to come easy and that doesn’t happen in
Though the Blackhawks are 1-2-1 in their last four, they
continue to lead the Central Division and are tied with Calgary for
second in the West behind San Jose.
This is Chicago’s only regular-season meeting with