Penguins out for revenge vs. Blackhawks
PITTSBURGH -- When the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins last met, it was a laugher.
For Chicago, anyway.
The Blackhawks figure the Penguins will have that 10-1 loss at Chicago on their minds when the teams play Saturday night at PPG Paints Arena.
"We've been on the wrong side of losses like that, and we certainly remember them more than other losses," Chicago winger Patrick Sharp said Friday.
That game was Oct. 5, the home opener for Chicago (9-8-2) and the second game in as many nights for Pittsburgh (11-7-3), which the night before celebrated its Stanley Cup victory before an overtime loss to St. Louis.
"I'm sure they remember that (10-1) game. I'm sure they're going to be ready to play," Blackhawks winger Ryan Hartman said. "They're a different team. They were coming off a back-to-back, the ring ceremony and all that kind of stuff, the banner.
"We expect a different team. We expect a team that's coming out hard, and it will be a good game."
The Penguins, who have won two games in a row and are 3-1-1 in their past five, have allowed 73 goals, second-most in the NHL before Friday's games, and own a minus-15 in goal differential, which was fifth-worst.
Those numbers don't present an accurate picture, coach Mike Sullivan said, pointing to the loss at Chicago, a 7-1 setback Oct. 21 at Tampa Bay and a 7-1 loss Oct. 29 at Winnipeg.
"We've had a few blowouts in back-to-back situations, and I think it has skewed the numbers," Sullivan said. "If you're not watching our team closer, it's easy to look at those numbers and to surmise certain things about our team. If you did, you'd be mistaken. If we were to take a couple of games out of the overall body of work, the numbers tell a different story."
Since the loss to the Jets, Pittsburgh has allowed 23 goals over eight games, an average of 2.9 per contest.
Offensively, the Penguins are getting strong play from their third line of Conor Sheary, Riley Sheahan and Patric Hornqvist. They combined for five goals, nine points in the past two games.
"When you look at guys like (Hornqvist) and Conor Sheary, they can get in on the forecheck, they can force turnovers when they get pucks deep," Sullivan said. "We've really liked that line for a number of games."
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, did not follow up on that 10-spot with robust offense.
In its next 15 games, Chicago scored 34 goals. That picked up some over the past week, with 15 goals scored while going 1-1-1.
"I would say we have a better net presence and willingness to hang around there longer," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "The (defensemen's) shots are getting through and they're more dangerous because there is a net presence."
Quenneville said he expects Duncan Keith to play Saturday. The veteran defenseman missed the past couple days of practice because of illness.
Pittsburgh, which did not practice Friday, could get defenseman Matt Hunwick back from a concussion.
Both clubs will have the added aspect of the memory of last month's meeting.
"I'm sure they're going to be excited about playing us and making things better," Quenneville said of the Penguins. "They're playing well. They're winning some games.
"Our own self, we're looking for more consistency in our game with the puck. We're generating some offense. I still think it's got some ways to improve."
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