The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins are coming off feel-good wins heading into their game Saturday at PPG Paints Arena.
Chicago, after a 1-2-1 road trip that included a West Coast swing and a public tongue-lashing from captain Jonathan Toews, came home for a game Thursday and made the most of it.
The Blackhawks breezed to a 5-2 win over Vancouver.
"We just needed to get some energy, got to have some fun," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "These guys -- all players -- play better when they're happy and they have some joy in their game."
The Blackhawks head right back on the road for a one-game stop in Pittsburgh. One of the things they want to do is launch more pucks at the net. They had 21 shots Tuesday in a 4-2 loss at San Jose, then had 35 shots against the Canucks.
"I think we need to do a better job of getting pucks on net and getting guys to the net and score some dirty ones," Alex DeBrincat, who scored against Vancouver, told the Blackhawks website. "They're not always going to be pretty, so we need to do a better job of that."
With back-to-back games Saturday at Pittsburgh and Sunday at home against Toronto, it's not clear which goaltender will start against the Penguins. Corey Crawford, who has struggled, picked up just his second win in the Vancouver game.
"(I'm) really happy for him and, hopefully, he can go on a bit of a run here with multiple solid performances," Colliton said.
"Going into Pittsburgh, it's a tough building to play in ... but we've got to find a way to get two points," Strome told the Blackhawks website. "We've got to start stringing some (wins) together."
Pittsburgh is coming home after splitting games at Boston, a 6-4 loss, and the New York Islanders, a 4-3 overtime win Thursday.
In both games, the Penguins erased a three-goal deficit.
"So far we've done a pretty good job of battling back," said Bryan Rust, who scored the Penguins' tying and winning goals against the Islanders. "There is that belief in here."
At Boston, Pittsburgh took the lead with a four-goal second period before eventually losing. Against the Islanders, Pittsburgh had three goals in the third period in beating the team that swept them in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
"We understand a game is 60 minutes. We're professionals in here," said Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who scored against the Islanders. "You need to fight every shift."
Pittsburgh has had a handful of losses where coaches and players were generally happy with the way the team played, but a theme around the club has been that those efforts need to start translating to points in the standings.
That happened Thursday without a lot of angst along the way.
"No one ever gets rattled," Penguins center Nick Bjugstad told the Athletic. "No one needs (to be) yelled at."
One stark area that stands out is the Pittsburgh power play, which is 0 for 23 over the past 10 games.
The Penguins most likely will be without top defenseman and power-play quarterback Kris Letang, who has a lower-body injury, for the second straight game.
--Field Level Media