Blackhawks give the cold shoulder to the Penguins 5-1 - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Blackhawks give the cold shoulder to the Penguins 5-1

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

On a snowy, blustery night in front of 62,921 at Soldier Field, the Blackhawks in a dominant effort defeated Pittsburgh 5-1.

Corey Crawford was air tight in less than favorable conditions. The Chicago defense played at a high level, was solid in their own zone and helped key the transition game. The snow on the ice mattered but It was interesting to see how quick the pace of play was for the Hawks despite bad playing conditions.

As is often the case the Blackhawks offense is triggered by defensemen being able pass well and quickly exit their zone. On Saturday night the Hawks were all business, got the early lead and kept rolling. Fancy wouldn't work outside on a windy and snowy night. The Hawks adjusted, went to the net and controlled the majority of play.

Pittsburgh came out with some big hits and one of them caught Marian Hossa up high. Hossa left the ice in the first period after playing only 4:06 and did not return. Hossa was announced out with an upper body injury. He was crunched hard and Blackhawks fans will be hoping Hossa will be back in action soon.

Goal scorers for Chicago were Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews (2), Kris Versteeg and Bryan Bickell.

Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad finished a +4 on the night and recorded four shots in 17:52 of ice time.

The Penguins have the best power play in the NHL but the Chicago penalty killing unit shut them down completely. The Penguins came away empty on six attempts and couldn't dent the twine in ten minutes of power play time. The effort from Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith on the penalty kill was at a high level.

Crawford was very good and broke a personal two game losing streak. He was able to stay alert in all situations and his positioning and rebound control was top notch. If not for Brent Seabrook putting the puck in his own net, Crawford would have pitched a shutout.

The Blackhawks best players shined, Patrick Kane did not score a goal but did pick up an assist. Kane also hit the post two times in a short span as he remains snake bitten, but the effort has been there. Kane fed Versteeg a beautiful pass to help give Chicago a 3-0 lead late in the second frame.

When the Hawks need determination and a big response their Captain usually steps up. In his first head to head matchup with the great Sidney Crosby, Toews wouldn't be denied. He handled Crosby defensively and also scored twice while posting a game high seven shots.

It looked like the Blackhawks were excited to play and when they get going it is difficult for any team to stop them. The Penguins couldn't match the intensity and no matter what effect the snow and wind had the Blackhawks wouldn't be denied.

On Tuesday night the Hawks will play at the United Center for the first time in over a month. The crowd should be amped up, and the same determination will be needed as Colorado will be looking to catch Chicago in the standings. Currently the Avalanche sit in fifth place in the Western Conference and trail the Blackhawks by five points.

Al's Shots

I get the reasoning behind the NHL having outdoor games and my thinking is they will continue in an expanded format like this season. I don't know if there will be six outdoor games next year but it wouldn't surprise me. I would expect them to play most games after the Super Bowl instead of bumping heads with the NFL during their playoffs.

Watching a game in a closed in press box didn't do much for me so I left Soldier Field early. I caught the rest of the game, that was taped, at home. As for the TV coverage, there were too many overhead shots and they didn't provide the best viewing angle to watch the game.

At Soldier Field there were a lot of excited people in attendance and the players seem to really enjoy playing outdoors. The atmosphere was better than at Wrigley Field a few years ago, although I enjoy watching an indoor game a lot more.

Word from Joel Quenneville is Hossa will miss some time but won't be out of action for long. That's "Q. speak" for no operation needed but it remains to be seen how many games Hossa will miss.

Bowman's pregame press conference

The NHL trade deadline is on March 5th, only three days away.

In comments before the game GM Stan Bowman was direct and by all indications it appears the Hawks will do little or nothing at all in the way of trades.

Bowman is a Versteeg fan, and he was his big trade acquisition for this season.

Bowman mentioned he wanted a player who could play up and down the lineup and Versteeg fills that role. Versteeg can also chip in on the power play and has some nice chemistry with Kane. Bowman wanted to get a player sooner than at the trade deadline so they could get accustomed to playing with teammates.

Last night, Versteeg became the first Blackhawk ever to score a goal at Soldier Field, Wrigley Field and at the United Center.

Bowman on Saturday night also made mention of Teuvo Teravainen, a Blackhawk top prospect playing overseas. The 19 year old Finn was just named captain of his team, to fill in for an injured veteran. That's a big accomplishment for such a young player.

TT is having a fine year and could be brought to the US after his playoffs end. Bowman mentioned they are not counting on TT to contribute to the club this season. But depending on when his season ends the young Finn could see practice time and maybe even some playing time with the big club. Bowman will not rush the youngster and he could play a big role for the Hawks next season.

In the pregame presser I asked Bowman about the recent decision to put Michael Kostka on waivers. I was curious as to why the Hawks would want to risk losing Kostka now, after playing with eight densemen all season.

Bowman remarked Kostka needed to play and they wanted him to go to Rockford for that reason. He also mentioned the move gave them some roster flexibility and they didn't want to skate a defenseman at forward down the stretch.

My take is Bowman felt it to be more important to leave the door open for an Ice Hog forward to come back up to Chicago. They probably knew there was a good chance Kostka would be claimed off waivers and the Hawks front office was willing to risk it.

When asked about the Blues acquisition of Ryan Miller and Steve Ott, Bowman mentioned St. Louis has been good all season. The fact they made a big trade won't play into the Hawks trade deadline plans. Bowman remarked he wouldn't be reactive and he likes his team.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Hawks acquired a depth defenseman but it is highly improbable anything earth shaking will happen by 3:00 PM CST on March 5th.

I will be back on Wednesday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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