The Blackhawks audition to appear in the next edition of Hockey Hugs.
CHICAGO — Despite the heavy snow swirling above them and the accumulating snow on the ice below them, the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins had different experiences with the elements at Soldier Field.
The Blackhawks were able to create opportunities and play through the difficult conditions during their 5-1 win over the Penguins. Pittsburgh couldn't generate much and only managed to get on the scoreboard thanks to a Brent Seabrook own goal in the third period.
In front of 62,921 in the NHL’s fourth Stadium Series game of the season, the Blackhawks became the first home team to win an outdoor game since the Calgary Flames in the 2011 Heritage Classic. (Technically, the New York Rangers were designated the “visiting team” winning their two games in Yankee Stadium in January.)
Jonathan Toews, facing Sidney Crosby for the first time their NHL careers, finished with two goals and an assist. His assist set up Patrick Sharp’s opening goal, while his first goal made Brooks Orpik look silly and was all the more gorgeous considering what he was stick-handling through:
It seemed when the Penguins did get chances, the Blackhawks just took advantage of their time with the puck.
Counter-attacking in the second period after the Penguins held possession in their zone, the Blackhawks broke out on a 3-on-1 that was finished off by Kris Versteeg after Patrick Kane showed patience before firing a tape-to-tape pass to make it 3-0:
"It wouldn't have mattered if we played this game inside or outside or if there was snow or no snow," said Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma. "They were better and more prepared to play, whatever the conditions were."
The snow caused some interesting moments for the players. Duncan Keith looked like he was carrying a snowball up the ice at one point early in the game. Numerous passes and low shots were dying before reaching their intended destination. Droves of shovelers took to the ice during stoppages to clear the surface.
While picturesque, it's never perfect hockey when playing outdoors.
Despite the weather that was coming, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville didn't want to change too much in their approach. Their focus was on grabbing the two points and they did just that.
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