Blackhawks try to get on track at home vs. Penguins
CHICAGO — As well as the Pittsburgh Penguins have played of late, they have been anything but perfect.
But still, the wins have come as Pittsburgh has tallied a 6-2-2 record in their past 10 games. As they prepare to face the slumping Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, however, the Penguins’ latest victory may have provided more than just points in the standings.
Despite again being less than flawless on Monday in a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders, the Penguins will carry some momentum into Wednesday’s road test.
“I think it should be a boost of confidence for us,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told reporters after Monday’s victory, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “You look at this core group of players, they’re a battle-tested group. They’ve been in a lot of high-stake games. They’ve been in a lot of close games on this stage.
“But I think sometimes when you win games like this, especially the way the early part of the season has gone for us, I think it’s evidence that if we play the game a certain way, we can have success. And it’s evidence that we have to play the game a certain way, with a commitment level that’s high, from everybody on the bench in order to win.”
Pittsburgh struggled in several facets of the game Monday against the Islanders, which forced Sullivan to make some in-game adjustments. The Penguins won for just the third time in 23 games when they scored three or fewer goals. Although there are concerns moving forward — both from Sullivan and his players — the fact the Penguins are finding ways to win has made some of the shortcomings a bit more tolerable.
Still, Sullivan’s team knows it needs to clean things up as they focus on the bigger picture.
“We just have to be patient and make sure we don’t beat ourselves,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said, according to the Post-Gazette.
The Blackhawks enter Wednesday’s game on short rest after suffering a 6-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. Chicago, which has now fallen behind in 11 straight games, has lost eight straight games and have won only four games since Oct. 25.
In their latest setback, the Blackhawks allowed three first-period goals as the Jets barraged Chicago goalie Cam Ward with 15 shots in the opening 20 minutes. The Blackhawks played without forward Artem Anisimov, who did not travel with the team to Winnipeg after he entered the NHL’s concussion protocol Sunday night.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton did not speculate how long Anisimov, who has tallied 15 points this season, could be out.
Chicago has struggled throughout the season in its all-around game but its penalty-killing unit surrendered three goals in Tuesday’s loss, which added to the Blackhawks, who will turn around and play Wednesday before hosting the Jets again on Friday as they look to finally snap their extended losing streak.
The first period, which Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane characterized as “embarrassing,” served as a reminder that one way or another, Chicago can’t keep putting itself in a hole as it has of late.
Colliton told reporters that the habit that has become a trend that has to change if the Blackhawks have any chance of reversing course.
“When bad stuff happens to us, we tend to stop playing for a little bit,” Colliton said, according to The Athletic. “And then the hole gets a little deeper.”