Blackhawks end 8-game slide with 6-3 win over Penguins
By MATT CARLSON, Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks finally got to celebrate Wednesday night.
It had been a while.
Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists, and Chicago stopped an eight-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I think we played a winning style tonight,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “Direct, hard-nosed. Hopefully that’ll turn into more points.
“So nice to see them get rewarded, because we played really hard in some other games and didn’t come out with a point.”
Marcus Kruger, Brent Seabrook, Andreas Martinsen, Brandon Saad each had a goal and an assist in Chicago’s first win since Nov. 24 at Florida. Alex DeBrincat scored a power-play goal.
Toews became the 16th active player to reach 700 career points with the same franchise. He assisted on Saad’s empty-netter for his 701st point.
Kruger snapped a 3-all tie when he beat Casey DeSmith from the front of the crease 3:49 into the third period. Martinsen set up Kruger’s fourth goal of the season with a centering pass from below the goal line.
Toews also had an empty-netter before Saad made it 6-3 with his ninth goal at 19:39.
“It’s a relief, but it’s definitely just a good feeling,” Toews said. “The guys have something to celebrate, something to enjoy. It’s something we’ve got to be aware of and build off.”
Bryan Rust scored three times for Pittsburgh in his second career hat trick. The 26-year-old forward, who entered with one goal in 29 games this season, missed on several other prime chances.
“He had a great night,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought he worked hard for all of his opportunities. He was one of the guys that we had that was skating, that was on the puck, that was playing the game on his toes.”
Sullivan said many of his other players didn’t have the same level of “jump” Rust did.
“We scratch and claw and get ourselves back in the game,” Sullivan said. “It’s disappointing we didn’t find a way to win.
“It’s a missed opportunity from our standpoint.”
The Penguins entered 3-0-1 in their previous four and 6-2-2 in their last 10.
Corey Crawford made 40 saves for last-place Chicago. DeSmith blocked 23 shots in his sixth straight start and 10th in the last 12 games.
Matt Murray, who started the season as Pittsburgh’s No. 1 goalie, was activated from injured reserve and served as DeSmith’s backup. Murray missed 11 games with a lower-body injury.
The Blackhawks shook up their roster on Wednesday morning by recalling forward Dylan Sikura and defenseman Carl Dahlstrom from Rockford of the AHL and sending forward Alexandre Fortin to the minors. Sikura and Dahlstrom played.
Chicago is 4-12-2 under Colliton, who replaced Joel Quenneville on Nov. 6.
The Blackhawks opened the scoring for the first time since Nov. 18 and led 2-1 after one period. Opponents had scored first in Chicago’s last 11 games, outscoring the Blackhawks 25-5 in the first period during that span.
“We got a better start, which is obviously a huge issue with our game the last little while,” Toews said. “We sustained the effort even when they had spurts and they played hard.”
Martinsen skated across the crease and was credited with his first goal of the season when Dahlstrom’s shot deflected in off his back at 14:14. Seabrook put Chicago ahead 2-0 3:37 later when he fired a shot from the right point over DeSmith’s glove.
Rust cut it to 2-1 with 1:20 left in the first when he skated from the left corner and beat Crawford on the glove side.
Rust’s second goal, at 5:46 of the second, tied it at 2. After Seabrook’s turnover, Crawford made a pad save on Derek Grant’s drive from the slot, but Rust buried the rebound.
DeBrincat’s power-play goal with 4:32 left in the period regained the lead for Chicago. He skated around Olli Maatta and beat DeSmith on the stick side with a shot just under the crossbar.
Rust tied it at 3 with 56.8 seconds left when his cross-ice pass from the left side of the net deflected off Seabrook’s stick and past Crawford.
NOTES: Rust has 37 goals in 211 career games. He scored three times against Ottawa in December 2016. … Seabrook played in his 1,037th NHL game to move past Bobby Hull and into second place in games played as a Blackhawk. Stan Mikita leads with 1,396. … Pittsburgh G Tristan Jarry was returned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL to make room for Murray, who practiced Tuesday and participated in the game-day skate Wednesday. “We thought we’d get him a good solid workout again today and then engage him over the next couple of games here,” coach Mike Sullivan said. … Pittsburgh F Matt Cullen returned after missing 11 games with a lower-body injury. … Chicago C Artem Anisimov was placed on injured reserve (concussion protocol) retroactive to Dec. 9, when he left a 3-2 loss to Montreal in the third period. … Blackhawks D Erik Gustafsson (illness) missed his second game, while Penguins F Patric Hornqvist (upper body) missed his third.
Penguins: Host Boston on Friday to open three-game homestand over four days.
Blackhawks: Host Winnipeg on Friday.