Final OT

Series (Game 1 of 1)

Chicago leads 1-0

Game 1: Saturday, December 5th

Blackhawks 2

(18-7-3, 39 pts)

Penguins 1

(20-9-1, 41 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 5, 2009

Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 OT T
CHI 1 0 0 12
PIT 0 0 1 01

A. Niemi (Blackhawks - G): Saves: 32, Save Pct.: .970

K. Versteeg (Blackhawks - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

M. Fleury (Penguins - G): Saves: 29, Save Pct.: .935

Blackhawks-Penguins Preview


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 defeats.

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 Conference.

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 5-2 victory.

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 Thursday.

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 this league."

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 Pittsburgh.