After struggling to stay out of the penalty box for 40 minutes, the Blackhawks were a couple posts away from tying a fantastic game. In the end, Chicago lost in regulation for the first time in December.
The game was impacted early in the first period when Marcus Kruger was levelled by Deryk Engelland. John Scott came to Kruger’s defense and was hit with 17 penalty minutes; Engelland was only called for the fighting major.
But that was the story of the night. The Hawks were in the box, and didn’t get on track until the third period.
Viktor Stalberg was strong in the third period rally. He was credited with nine shots on goal, scored his sixth goal of the year and was credited with an assist on Jonathan Toews’ goal that started the Chicago scoring.
Toews struggled at the dot in the first two periods, but battled back to win 15 of 29 draws in the game. Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa had the other two Hawks assists in the game.
Ray Emery didn’t get much help in the first two periods, but kept the Blackhawks in the game in the third. He allowed three goals against 28 shots in the game and took his first regulation loss in over a month; his last regulation loss was Nov. 19 in Edmonton.
To the Blackhawks’ credit, they allowed only one power play goal on seven advantages for Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, the goal they allowed was to Chris Kunitz during the first penalty of the night, the questionable instigator called on Scott.
Kruger did not return after the first period and is questionable for Wednesday night’s game against Montreal. Engelland should receive a phone call from the league office for the hit on Kruger, which was not only illegal but caused an injury.
After Kruger left the game, Kane moved back to center.
James Neal was also called for a couple penalties in the game, once leaving his feet to hit Duncan Keith and another on a crosscheck on Brent Seabrook. The hit on Keith is worthy of league attention as well.