So this is what the hockey universe missed out on this summer. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks played a very spirited preseason game last night, with the Pens achieving victory via a Beau Bennett shootout goal. Memories of how these two teams dominated the 2013 NHL season flooded fans minds, but regrettably that dream Stanley Cup matchup was not to be. If last night was any sampling, then that series and their March 1st, 2014 game in Soldier Field should've/should be a gem.
Speaking of gems, how 'bout that Beau Bennett? Not only did he win the game in the shootout, but he's practically locked himself in, at the very least on the main roster, but mostly as a top six forward. The Penguins regulation goals came from the sticks of Derrick Pouliot, Joe Vitale, and Sidney Crosby.
Speaking of the Kid, Sidney bounced back from a frustrating game against Detroit and looked more like the guy who won the 2013 Ted Lindsay Award. He did take a stick to the face but joked about after the game, saying, "Hopefully I'm just getting them all out of the way in the preseason." His line-mate Chris Kunitz looked equally sharp, notching two assists in the scorecard.
Speaking of looking sharp, did anyone else notice how good Robert Bortuzzo looked last night? His hit on Patrick Kane made Brooks Orpik smile like a father seeing his kid ride a bike without training wheels. Bortuzzo abused the 'Hawks stars and his performance is making Deryk Engelland and Derrick Pouliot sweat a bit. If Bortuzzo plays like that again this preseason, he'll be a fixture on the Penguins blueline.
Going back to bouncing back, Tomas Vokoun looked more like the goalie from the end of last year and less like the goalie who began the 2013 campaigne. He saw thirty-three shots, collected thirty saves, and was great in the overtime/shootout. In other goaltender news, the Penguins have sent Eric Hartzell down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The move shortens the Penguins roster to 43 players. With Vokoun logging all the minutes last night, it'll be interesting to see if Marc-Andre Fleury will have a whole game to himself coming up.
Speaking of upcoming games, the Pittsburgh Penguins next one will be against the Columbus Blue Jackets inside the friendly confides (get it?) of CONSOL Energy Center. That game will start at 4:00pm and be seen on ROOT Sports.
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