-The Penguins are in Chicago this evening with a mish-mash preseason lineup. Most interestingly, Chuck Kobasew is on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. While we wouldn't suggest Kobasew is destined to replace Pascal Dupuis on that line, it's a pretty good indication of what the coaching staff thinks of his effort thus far in training camp as a non-roster invitee.
-Kobasew can provide some offense. He has three 20-goal seasons on his resume. Additionally, he has been a regular penalty killer in his career. A mix of two-way hockey like that will go a long way towards him making this roster.
-We forget who suggested this to us, but Kobasew could be a Richard Park type of player for this team.
-We're interested to see Adam Payerl tonight. He's a fairly large body (6-foot-3, 218 pounds). If he can figure out how to stick at this level, he could be a physical, punishing fourth-line checker the way Mike Rupp was for this team or the way Dwight King or Jordan Nolan are for the Kings.
-We're eager to see Robert Bortuzzo. He has looked fantastic in camp but hasn't seen any game action yet.
-Simon Despres could use a strong effort to make his case to make this roster.
-This will be Brenden Mikkelson's first action in the preseason. He could serve as a Dylan Reese or Alexandre Picard type of player for the organization. A veteran defenseman who will give some leadership at the AHL level and occasionally get some work at the NHL level in the event of injuries.
-Kudos to Root Sports to show the national anthem. They do it right in Chicago:
-The Blackhawks are trying to turn Brandon Saad, who has been exclusively a left winger in his short NHL career, into a center. With Dave Bolland gone, the Blackhawks need someone who can be a consistent forechecker at center. Saad has the tools for that. He's not nearly as agitating as Bolland, but he has a lot more talent.
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Jayson Megna (a native of Northbrook, Ill.) Simon Despres, Deryk Engelland and Tomas Vokoun.
-The Blackhawks starters are Bryan Bickell, Patrick Kane, Teuvo Teravainen, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya and Nikolai Khabibulin.
19:00: The Blackhawks get the first power play as Bortuzzo holds up Patrick Sharp. Jeffrey, Sutter, Engelland and Niskanen take the ice.
18:43: Niskanen steals the puck behidn the Penguins' net but gives it right back to Bickell. Bickell deals to Kane's stick. Kane snaps off a quick low wrister from inside the right circle. Vokoun reads the play, drops to his knees and kicks it out.
17:08: A quick slapper by Oduya from the left circle is eaten up by Vokoun.
17:00: The Bortuzzo minor is killed.
15:25: The Penguins get their first notable offensive chance as Crosby leads a rush up the right wing. He slides it to Kunitz trailing on the left wing. Kunitz taps it to Kobasew driving on net. Kobasew re-directs the puck on net but Khabibulin is to the task.
14:41: The Blackhawks take the first lead. The great Joe Vitale makes a poor turnover on the right wing wall of his own zone. He forces a backhanded pass which ends right on the stick of Drew Leblanc. Leblanc settles the puck, turns and deals to Sharp who rips a sizzling wrister over the blocker of Vokoun. What a sick wrister. What a terrible turnover by Vitale. "Chelsea Dagger" plays. Leblanc and Ben Smith get assists. Blackhawks 1-0.
14:21: Saad pushes a puck up the left wing but has it poked off his stick by Simon Despres. Bennett collects the puck, draws in a few defenders and flips a backhanded pass up ice to the Chicago slot. Matt D'Agostini races after it, collects the puck and attacks the net on his backhand. D'Agostini fumbles it a bit before having Khabibulin poke check it away. Great plays by Despres and Bennett.
13:40: The Penguins have a line with Payerl, Steve MacIntyre and Zach Sill on the ice. That's a lot of meaness on one line.
12:59: Kobasew picks up a puck in the offensive zone and leads a rush to the Chicago zone. He snaps off a pedestrian wrister from the left circle which Khabibulin boots away.
12:16: Kane tries to sneak the puck behind the net and is pinched off the puck by a stiff shoulder check by Bortuzzo. Kane is rattled a bit.
11:52: Bortuzzo answers for the hit on Kane as Sheldon Brookbank challenges him to a fight in the Chicago zone. They lock up on the right wing boards. Bortuzzo uses his superior size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and throws a bunch of rights at Brookbank (6-foot-1, 202 pounds). Brookbank is able to fend him off mostly and wrestles Bortuzzo to the ice. Both players get fighting majors. Brooksbank also gets a roughing minor so the Penguins will get a power play. Crosby, Bennett, Kunitz, Niskanen and Derrick Pouliot take the ice.
11:02: Crosby has a chance to the right of the cage off some tic-tac-toe passing by Kunitz and Bennett but can't get a clean shot off.
10:45: A one-timer by Niskanen from above the left circle sails over the cage.
10:35: Kunitz steals a puck below the goal line and deals a pass to Niskanen at the left point. Niskanen deals it back to Kunitz on the left half wall. Kunitz slides a cross-ice pass to Pouliot in the left circle. Pouliot grips and rips a wobbly wrister through the five hole of Khabibulin. The puck hits twine and the Penguins tie the game. Fantastic puck movement. Kunitz and Niskanen get assists. Blackhawks 1, Penguins 1.
8:31: Saad pushes the puck up the left wing, pulls up, spins off Despres and deals a pass to Hjalmarsson at the left point. Hjalmarsson booms a one-timer which Vokoun hugs against his chest.
8:09: Crosby controls the puck behind the Chicago cage and is tripped up by Markus Kruger. That's two minutes for tripping. Pouliot, Niskanen, Crosby, Kunitz and Bennett take the ice.
7:40: Kunitz chases after a puck dumped into the left wing corner and is sandwiched from behind by Ryan Stanton. Kunitz is shaken up a bit and takes a few moments to recover to his skates. No penalty. Replay show Stanton giving a slight but hardly terrible cross check to Kunitz.
6:30: Kunitz is on the bench being attended to by athletic trainer Chris Stewart.
6:09: The Kruger minor is killed. Not much going on there for the Penguins.
5:27: Sill blocks a wrister by Oduya at the left point.
4:20: Payerl gives Stanton a thump into the right wing boards of the Chicago' zone.
3:07: The great Joe Vitale makes amends for his earlier mistake. Facing pressure from Kruger, Despres taps a backhanded pass from the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone to Megna at the right point. Megna directs a pass to Vitale at center ice. Vitale steers it to Dustin Jeffrey on left wing. Jeffrey drives up the boards, gains the offenisive zone and drops a pass to Engelland trailing just inside the left cirlce. Engelland rips a wrister. It hits something. Vitale is driving to the cage, recovers the rebound and punches it by Khabibulin's left leg. What a display of puck movement. All five Penguins skaters on the ice touched it. Norman Dale would have loved that goal. Engelland and Jeffrey get assists. Penguins 2-1.
1:44: After Pouliot fumbles a puck in his own left wing corner, Bickell takes it off him and drives to the cage. Pouliot slashes his stick and forces the shot wide. Pouliot's stick breaks and he's sent off for slashing. Vitale, Bortuzzo, Mikkelson and Sill take the ice.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Blackhawks 1.
-There were several individual performances which stood out there. We liked what we saw from Despres. He was disciplined and played a safe, conservative game. His initial pass to Megna led to Vitale's goal. He also had a strong defensive play which led to a scoring chance for D'Agostini.
-His penalty aside, Bortuzzo had a strong presence. He looks so confidient right now.
-Derrick Pouliot still has a ways to go before he's a complete NHL player, but his offensive game is so smooth. If you could just keep a defenseman at this level for his offense, Pouilot would be in the NHL.
-Kobasew looks more than capable of playing with Kunitz and Crosby. It's hard not to see him getting a contract with the Penguins.
-The Blackhawks have a 10-7 lead in shots.
-Kobasew leads the game with three shots.
-Sharp, Kane and Adam Clendening each lead the Blackhawks with two shots.
-Niskanen leads the game with 8:12 of ice time.
-Oduya is right behind him with 8:10.
-The Penguins have an 11-10 edge in faceoffs.
-Crosby is 4 for 6 (67 percent).
-Teravainen is 3 for 3 (100 percent).
-Mikkelson leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Viktor Svedberg leads the Blackhawks with two.
20:00: The Blackhawks will have 15:00 second of power-play time on fresh ice. Sutter, Jeffrey, Engelland and Bortuzzo take the ice.
19:45: The Pouliot minor is killed.
19:26: Collecting a loose puck in his own zone, Sutter pushes it up the left wing boards through the neutral zone. He chips it by Hjalmarsson and drives to the net on his backhand and flips a shot on net. Khabibulin kicks it out. Sutter loses his footing and crashes into the end boards back first. He's a little sluggish as he recovers to his skates.
18:17: Chasing a dump-in, D'Agostini puts his right arm on Clendening's right arm and twists him around. That's two minutes for holding. Sill, Vitale, Bortuzzo and Puliot take the ice. It's interesting to see Pouliot, primarily an offensive defenseman, getting some time on the penalty kill.
17:29: Clendening booms a slapper form the right point. Vokoun boots it out.
17:10: The Penguins generate a short-handed offensive chance. After Bortuzzo steals a puck off Sharp in the Penguins' left wing corner, Jeffrey pushes it up ice on the right wing. As he gains the offensive zone, Sutter drives to the net drawing a few defenders with him. That creates space for Bortuzzo in the slot. Jeffrey hits him with a pass. Bortuzzo swats a one-timer on net. Khabibulin reads the play all the way and eats up the shot.
16:17: D'Agostini's penalty is killed. That was a great effort by the Penguins.
15:41: The Penguins force a turnover deep and cash in. Kruger fumbles the puck in his own left circle. Kunitz steals it right off him and forces a pass to Crosby in the left circle. Svedberg slides down to block it. Kunitz is able to recover the rebound and still deals a pass to Crosby who slams home the puck by the glove hand of a helpless Khabibulin. Those aren't the players you want to turn the puck over too in your own zone. Kunitz gets the only assist. Penguins 2-1.
14:04: Khabibulin keeps his team in it. After Kane makes a careless pass in the offensive zone, Despres breaks it up. D'Agostini picks it up and slides a breakout pass to Sutter streaking up ice. Sutter takes the pass gets behind the Chicago defense and attacks on his backhand. Khabibulin slides to his left and fights it off.
12:38: Brookbank leads a rush into the Penguins' zone and is stood up a bit at center point by Niskanen.
11:43: Saad tries to push the the puck through the neutral zone but loses it on a stick on puck by Jeffrey.
10:55: Another power play for Chicago as Engelland cross checked Kruger in the right wing corner. Sutter, Sill, Bortuzzo and Mikkelson take the ice.
10:23: Kruger flips a backhander from the right of the cage. Vokoun gloves it as Mikkelson knocks over Jimmy Hayes in front of the blue paint.
9:43: Clendening swats a slapper from the right point. Vitale leans down to block it.
9:14: Kane takes a pass in the right wing. With an acre of ice to work with, Kane moves in and whistles a wrister which glances off Vokoun lid and and deflects away.
8:55: The Engelland minor expires.
8:45: Taking a pass from Kunitz, Crosby rips a quick wrister from in tight on the left wing. Khabibulin eats it up.
7:55: Play is halted as Sharp and Bortuzzo engage in a shoving match in the Penguins' zone. Replays show Sharp tripping Bortuzzo and cross checking him in the back of the head. Both players get slashing minors while Sharp gets an additionally cross checking minor. Ryan Hartman will serve one of Sharp's minors. The Penguins end up with a five on four power play. Sutter, Bennett, D'Agostini, Pouliot and Niskanen take the ice.
7:44: The Blackhawks get back in it. Pressuring Pouliot into a turnover in the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone, Smith takes the puck, veers towards the slot and sneaks a backhander under a poke-checking Vokoun. That was ugly. Pouliot learned a hard lesson there. THere are no assists. Penguins 3-2.
7:11: Pushing a puck into the offensive zone, Saad fends off Niskanen and sweeps a shot from the left wing on net which Vokoun smothers.
5:55: Play returns to five on five.
5:02: A wrister by Engelland from the left point is deflected wide to the far side.
4:24: Cutting to the slot from the left circle, Bickell flips a backhander on net. Vokoun fights it off with his chest.
3:40: Another big save by Crosby. After Hjalmarsson fumbles the puck at the right point of the Penguins' zone, Kobasew steers a breakout pass to Crosby springing him on a breakaway. Svedberg gives Crosby a little hook. Crosby approaches the net and releases a somewhat pedestrian wrister on net which Khabibulin punches away.
2:38: Sadd controls a pass in the left circle of the Penguins' zone and forces a pass. Bortuzzo lays his big fram down in front of the blue paint and breaks up the pass.
1:53: Engelland swats a slapper from the right point. Smith blocks it. Engelland recovers the puck and wires a shot on net. Khabibulin knocks it dead with his chest. D'Agositi is right in Khabibulin's grill and punches the rebound on net. Khabibulin denies that as well.
1:05: Deep in the left wing corner of the Blackhawks' zone, Vitale slashes Brookbank. That's two minutes. Sill, Bortuzzo, Engelland and Sutter take the ice.
0:22: HUGE save. Off some nice puck movement, Kane snaps off a one-timer from the right circle. Vokoun leans to his left and eats up the shot. Chicago fans cheer for a goal but Vokoun held it out. What a save.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 3, Blackhawks 2.
-That was another strong period for Despres. He's playing a responsible game. He's make a few steals and has done the right thing with the puck nearly every time.
-Mikkelson showed off what he offered as a physical presence a few times that period.
-Vokoun was strong.
-Dustin Jeffrey has had a strong "Swiss Army Knife" type of game. In other words, he's done a bit of everything.
-It seems like officials are calling things fairly tight.
-Why would Sharp's cross-check to Bortuzzo's head not face any sort of supplemental discipline?
-The Blackhawks have a 23-18 lead in shots.
-Kane leads the game with five shots.
-Crosby leads the Penguins with four shots.
-Clendening leads the game with 16:21 of ice time.
-Pouliot leads the Penguins with 14:47.
-The Penguins have a 25-18 lead in faceoffs (58 percent).
-Crosby is 9 for 12 (75 percent).
-Teravainen is 7 for 11 (64 percent).
-Mikkelson leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Svedberg leads the Blackhwaks with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Blackhawks will have 55 seconds of power play on fresh ice. Sutter, Engelland, Sill and Despres take the ice.
19:05: The Vitale minor is killed.
18:32: Crosby tries to tuck in a forehand wraparound from the right of the cage. Khabibulin holds it out.
17:49: Hjalmarsson booms a slapper from the left point. Vokoun fights it off despite a screen.
15:51: Off a turnover by Mikkelson, Svedberg pounds a one-timer from the left point. Vokoun kicks it out.
13:51: Svedberg has a wrister from the left point blocked by Megna.
13:29: Taking a pass on the left wing, Jeffrey tries to feed a pass to Vitale driving down the slot. Their timing is off a bit and they fail to connect.
12:05: After Sill forces a turnover behind the Chicago net with a hit into the end boards on Stanton, MacIntyre chops a loose puck on net from the slot. Khabibulin fights it off.
11:14: After Kobasew forces a turnover behind the Chicago net, Crosby feeds a pass to Kunitz in the left circle. Kunitz immediately swats a one-timer which Khabibulin denies.
9:09: Engelland accidentally flips a puck out of play from his own zone. That's a delay of game penalty. Sutter Despres , Sill and Bortuzzo take the ice.
8:38: Bortuzzo swats a one-timer from the center point. Khabibulin steers it away.
8:01: Sutter blocks a slapper by Svedberg at the left point. Sutter is hobbling a bit for his efforts.
7:31: Off a steal, Vitale lifts a wrister from the left circle on net. Khabibulin says no.
7:09: The Engelland minor is killed.
6:53: THe Blackhawks crash the net and cash in. Taking a point-to-point pass from Hjalmarsson, Brookbank booms a slapper from the right point. It hits a cluster of bodies in front. Brandon Bollig is able to collect the puck and push it by the stretched out glove hand of Vokoun. That was the definition of an ugly goal. It ties the game. Hartman and Brookbank get assists. Blackhawks 3, Penguins 3.
5:24: Stanton is called for interference against Mikkelson. Crosby, Niskanen, Pouliot, Kunitz and Bennett take the ice.
4:07: A wrister by Bennett from the left circle is blocked by Saad.
3:40: Collecting a loose puck on the left wing, Kobasew tries to jam in a backhander which Khabibulin denites.
3:24: The Stanton minor is killed with little sustained pressure from the Penguins.
2:30: A half slapper by Hjlamarsson is deflected high over the cage by Sill.
2:12: Vitale controls a puck behind the Chicago net and shields it with his body. Stanton skates up to him and shoves him slightly. Vitale sells the hit a bit. Play is halted and Stanton is sent off for boarding. Pouliot, Niskanen, Crosby, Bennet and Kunitz take the ice.
1:48: Crosby zips up the left wing and snaps off wrister wide of the cage.
0:46: Controlling the puck in the left cirlc,e Crosby snaps off a wrister wide to the far side.
0:32: Niskanen chops a slapper from the right circle which Svedberg blocks.
0:00: End of period. Blackhawks 3, Penguins 3.
-The Blackhawks have a 31-26 lead in shots.
4:30: Poking a pass attempt to Oduya up ice out of his own zone, D'Agostini races up the left wing and releases a wrister to the far side. Khabibulin snags it for a save.
3:27: Off some strong puck movement, Crosby taps a pass to Niskanen at the right point. Niskanen chops a one-timer which Khabibulin fights off. Pouliot is right there in the slot and smacks the rebound. It hits a stick and pops up in the air.
1:22: After a snazzy move by Kane around Crosby, Clendening booms a slapper from above the right circle wide of the cage.
1:13: Off some give and go passing by Crosby and Kunitz, Despres takes a pass to the right of the net but can't get a clena stic on the puck. Khabibulin's left leg holds out the puck.
0:58: As Vokoun eats up a wrister from Kane off the right wing, Clendening tries to swat away Crosby's stick and ends up clipping him in the face. Crosby falls to the ice in discomfort. After a few moments, he recovers to his skate and heads to the bench.
0:04: A wrister by Saad from the right circle is blocked by Bortuzzo.
0:00: End of period. Blackhawks 3, Penguins 3.
-Kane is up first. He takes the puck with speed, enters the offensive zone, slows down and shows off a flurry of stick fakes and leg lifts. Before he can offer a shot, he sort of just runs into Vokoun and is denied.
-Bennett offers a much simpler aproach. he take shte puck, veers slightly to the left and attacks the net. He snaps off a wrister by Khabibulin's glove hand. Penguins 1-0.
-Teravainen takes the puck and veers slightly to the left. He approaches the net goes backhand then moves back to his forehand but is denied by Vokoun's glove.
-Crosby can win it. He takes the puck, veers to the left, glides across the front of the crease and goes backhand. Khabibulin slides to his left and fights it off.
-Leblanc needs to score to keep his team alive. He approaches the net from the slot and snaps off a wrister wide to the left of the cage. End of shootout. Penguins 1, Blackhawks 0. End of Game. Penguins 4, Blackhawks 3.
-We liked Simon Despres' game a lot tonight. Outside of one rush in overtime where there was a lot of ice, he played a safe, conservative game and made a ton of good decisions. He jumped on opposing passes, broke up a lot of plays and seemed to make the right play with the puck every time. He made a big statement to management tonight.
-Chuck Kobasew continued his strong play. He has done nothing but show he can play for this team. He seems to understand the style this team plays. He has offered quite a few things in quite a few areas too. He showed he could play at the speed of Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz and he showed he is a responsible defensive player. Additionally, his forechecking has been impressive.
-Derrick Pouliot has the skills to be a dynamic NHL player some day. He showed off some of those skills tonight. But he's still a ways a way from being an NHL player. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by some of the size and physicality of the Blackhawks tonight. He'll learn how to use his body to defend the puck eventually.
-Robert Bortuzzo made an impact in a lot of ways. He showed his physicality early and a confident touch with the puck.
-Beau Bennett looked dominant at times tonight. He looks like he's on the verge of taking a big step as an NHLer.Tu
-The great Joe Vitale had a fairly up and down game tonight. He had an ugly turnover which led to Chicago's first goal. But he found a way to get it back with a rebound goal of his own.
-Dustin Jeffrey showed off his "Swiss Army Knife" skillset by offering contribution in a variety of areas tonight.
-Brenden Mikkelson won't make the NHL roster of training camp, but he showed a few things tonight which should offer management confidence in him if he needs to be recalled in the event of an injury at the NHL level. He was physical and played a pretty intelligent game.
-Tomas Vokoun was outstanding. The Blackhawks could have won this in regulation were it not for him.
-Matt D'Agostini created a few offensive chances with his speed alone tonight.
-Zach Sill had a few nice effort plays.
-The Blackhawks had a 33-30 lead in shots.
-Patrick Kane led the game with seven shots.
-Crosby led the Penguins with five shots.
-Johnny Oduya led the game with 25:14 of ice time.
-Matt Niskanen led the Penguins with 24:52.
-The Penguins led the game in faceoffs, 37-24 (61 percent).
-Crosby was 12 for 20 (60 percent).
-Teuvo Teravainen was 9 for 16 (56 percent).
-Victor Svedberg, who is one of the smallest 6-foot-9, dudes we've ever seen led the game with five blocked shots.
-Mikkelson and Jayson Megna led the Penguins with three blocked shots.