Eric Meloche scored the tying goal with 2:06 left in the first period and rookie Sebastien Caron made 33 saves as the punchless Penguins snapped a five-game losing streak with a 1-1 tie with the Chicago Blackhawks.
“Right now, we will take whatever we can get,” said captain and owner Lemieux, who was asked if he was worried Pittsburgh would not win another game this season. “Not really. Well, one of these days we will win one. If we keep getting chances at the end, we will be ourselves in a position to win.
“It’s tough for everybody. Every time that a team is not winning it’s a difficult period, but we’re just trying to make the best out of it.”
Meloche wristed Lemieux’s centering pass to the slot, beating Blackhawks rookie goaltender Craig Andersson for his second goal.
“Any point, especially on the road, is a great point,” Meloche said. “We have been struggling of late and we got behind and we came back and we didn’t give up anything in the third period. That’s a positive.”
“I was just going to the net and Nikko made a great play,” Daze said. “He got the puck across to me and it was pretty simple. It was almost a tap-in.”
With 1:18 left in regulation, Chicago’s Mark Bell’s shot from the crease hit the post.
After two scoreless periods, the Blackhawks had the best chance in overtime when Blackhawks defenseman Jon Klemm’s shot was deflected off the right post midway through overtime.
“Oh yeah, I love those posts,” said Caron, smiling. “Thank God today that they were there. That was great.
“I was a little rusty early but I got more comfortable as the game went on. I thought I was seeing the puck very well and my defenseman helped me out a lot.”
Andersson made a glove save on Mattias Johansson’s shot from the left circle with 41 seconds to go as the Blackhawks kept the Penguins winless in a season-high 16 straight games (0-14-2-0) - their longest stretch without a victory since their franchise-record 18-game winless streak from January 2-February 10, 1982.
However, Pittsburgh did snap a six-game road skid and earned its first point since a 2-2 tie with Nashville on March 12.
“You always care (if the team tied or won),” Caron said. “We had a good chance today but we couldn’t finish it. It’s hard to see that happen, but at least we played well defensively.”
The Penguins have been strugging since dismantling the team prior to and at the trade deadline on March 11.
“We’re just trying to look at the whole organization,” Lemieux said. “That’s what we’re going to do from top to bottom. Rebuild this team. Every franchise has to do it. Every 10-15 years. It’s been a long time for us since our days in the early 90’s. We’re there now and it’s a matter of getting our young players together and try to get them ready to win in the future.”
Andersson turned aside 27 shots for Chicago, which is 0-2-1 in its last three overall and 1-5-1 in its past seven vs. Pittsburgh. The Blackhawks have won just six of their last 29 games (6-19-2-2). If Edmonton wins Sunday night against Nashville, Chicago will be eliminated from the playoff hunt.
“Every player knows that when you’re out of the playoff (chase) you still have to prove something,” Daze said. “Whether it is for your job or ice time or whatever…but you’re mindset is that you still have to play well. We need to finish strong.”