CHICAGO (AP) Sidney Crosby scored twice, Reilly Smith and Bryan Rust added goals, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Thursday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

The Penguins had lost to Minnesota, Winnipeg and Florida in succession, but controlled their third road game in four starts from the outset. With the victory, Pittsburgh moved past Washington and into sixth place in the Metropolitan Division. The Blackhawks, last in the NHL, dropped their eighth straight game (0-7-1).

“We generated some good chances,” Crosby said. “When it was two-nothing in the second, I thought we could have built on it. Had some really good looks, and a post. We can build off this. We need the points.”

Blackhawks star rookie Connor Bedard had an assist in his return a 14-game absence because of a broken jaw. After a sluggish first period, he set up Phillipp Kurashev with a nifty pass through traffic midway through the second. Kurashev dumped it past sprawling goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. That drew the largest roar of the night from the United Center crowd of 19,423 for this year’s top draft pick.

Bedard lost the game’s opening face-off to Crosby, then lost contact with the veteran center, who deflected Marcus Pettersson’s fluttering pass over the left shoulder of Blackhawks goaltender Arvid Soderblom 15 seconds in.

“I thought it was a huge start for us,” Peterson said. “I thought we were a little anxious yesterday to make some plays in the first. We’re going to be in a dogfight, so let’s start with this one.”

Smith made it 2-1 at 12:40 of the first, beating Soderblom with a wrist shot on the glove side after scooting past Bedard.

“Obviously a tough start for a couple,” Bedard said. “I wanted to come back earlier, but you’ve got to be safe and smart. They told me I was ready to go today, and so I was excited.

“I’ve been skating four weeks now and felt confident coming in.”

Crosby was left alone on the goal line to the right of the net for his second goal 5:51 into the third period. Chicago defensemen Seth Jones and Alex Vlasic never got close to him. It’s the 12th time Crosby has scored at least 30 goals in a season.

“I thought our guys stepped up,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “Sid, it looked like he was trying to will it for us. He was locked in from the very first shift, strong on pucks all night.”

Rust scored from 190 feet into an empty net with 50 seconds remaining.

Nedeljkovic made 27 saves. Soderblom had 23.

Bedard’s assist moved him a point ahead of Minnesota’s Brock Faber in the rookie scoring race, 34-33.

“He looked pretty good for coming off an extended time,” Crosby said. “There are times he doesn’t get a lot of room and makes something out of nothing.”

Pittsburgh placed forward Jake Guentzel on injured reserve because of an upper-body injury on Thursday, recalling three players to fill his and other roster gaps. Vinnie Hinostroza, Valtteri Puustinen and Jonathan Gruden were called up. Guentzel, who was tied in points with Crosby before the game, is expected to miss four weeks, out of action past the March 8 trading deadline.

In addition to Bedard, the Blackhawks brought defenseman Jarred Tinordi off injured reserve.


Penguins: Host Los Angeles on Sunday.

Blackhawks: Host Ottawa on Saturday.



Copyright 2024 STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.