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Instant Analysis: Mrazek Stands Tall as Blackhawks Rally to Win



The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks met, the latter stunned the former, bouncing them from the playoffs. Though it didn’t have postseason implications tonight, the Blackhawks shocked the Penguins again.

A nice little bounce and a pretty pass found Jason Dickinson who made sure to bury the good fortune. The goal erased a two-goal deficit and gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead–and eventually the win.

Early on the Blackhawks had momentum. It was primed up for a goal with Connor Bedard leaping off the bench when the Blackhawks had its first power play of the season. The pressure in Pittsburgh’s zone was intense but it didn’t result in a goal.

Instead, it ended up being a goal the other way a few minutes later. Bryan Rust opened the scoring and the Penguins took an early 1-0 lead. If not for Petr Mrazek, it could have been a long night for the Blackhawks.

The Penguins scored again with under eight minutes in the second, on a pretty display of passing that resulted in a Sidney Crosby goal. After Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson unsuccessfully challenged the play, the Penguins had a goal confirmed and then a power play. But Chicago answered with a Ryan Donato goal that netted Bedard his first NHL assist.

A couple power play chances in the third yielded nothing but Cole Guttman buried one with just under 10 minutes to go in the game. Dickinson added his late in the third before Nick Foligno finished it off with an empty netter.

Mrazek Sharp All Night

He had no chance on the Rust goal as it was redirected and was so quick, that it banged off the bottle and was out of the net before one could blink. The ref missed it, too, and waived it off before overturning the call on a stoppage. But it didn’t shake Mrazek at all. He stood tall during several odd man rush opportunities, keeping the scoreless Blackhawks in the hunt. His performance would only get stronger, robbing Penguins left and right to keep the Blackhawks in the game.

It worked. Mrazek stood tall and the Blackhawks rallied to secure the win.

Lessons for Bedard in Blackhawks Debut

He had a lot of shots on goal and he was disruptive at times, too. He also got beaten by seasoned veterans when he tried to make an extra move or two. The faceoff circle was a trouble spot, too, but he finally won one to start the third.

It’s all to be expected.

But he never looked out of the flow. The Athletic’s Mark Lazarus tweeted this out and it’s certainly worth another look:

Even on the telecast, there was a constant focus on him, which of course is going to happen. But he held his own and will get stronger with each game.

The Hawks are back at it tomorrow against Boston at 6:30pm.