Toews, Blackhawks top Penguins at snowy Soldier Field
Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Six days after winning Olympic gold together with Team Canada in Sochi, superstars Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews found themselves on opposite ends of a snowy sheet of ice at Solider Field.
Squaring off against each other for the first time in the regular season, Toews got the best of his Canadian counterpart in front of the Chicago faithful.
Toews tallied twice and added an assist, Corey Crawford stopped 31 shots and the Blackhawks downed Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-1, on Saturday as part of the NHL's "Stadium Series."
"It was exciting for us as players to be a part of this and play at Solider Field," Toews said. "I think as a team we're super happy we were able to find a way to win."
Patrick Sharp, who also played for Team Canada, picked up a goal and an assist, while Kris Versteeg and Bryan Bickell each lit the lamp once to help the Blackhawks snap a two-game slide.
James Neal was credited with the lone Pittsburgh marker, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves for the Penguins, who have lost three straight.
"The setting coming out there was pretty amazing obviously with the snow coming down," Crosby commented. "Still an awesome setting, but it's always better when you win."
Toews helped the Blackhawks strike first late in the opening period, as he picked up the puck behind the Pittsburgh net and dished to the right faceoff dot for Sharp, who rang on off the far post and in for a 1-0 lead at 15:35.
The Chicago captain then doubled the lead 10:47 into the second, as he charged down the middle of the ice and danced around a defender in the high slot before cutting in front and stuffing a backhander through the pads of Fleury.
The Blackhawks padded their lead just under six minutes later when a 3-on-1 rush saw Patrick Kane carry the disc down the left side and toe drag near the left faceoff dot before threading the needle to the low right side for Versteeg, who tapped the puck into the empty net for a 3-0 lead at 16:43.
An own goal ended Crawford's shutout bid 6:21 into the third, as Neal picked up a rebound on the low right side and threw the puck on net. Defenseman Brent Seabrook tried to clear the puck out of the crease, but his sweeping attempt sent the disc into the back of the net to bring the Pens within 3-1.
However, Bickell buried his own rebound on the doorstop off a 2-on-1 rush to make it 4-1 at 13:57 before a Toews' rebound deflected in off Pittsburgh defenseman Simon Despres at 17:52 to account for the final margin.
Saturday's game marked the fifth of six outdoor games on the league's schedule this season and the fourth of the "Stadium Series." The Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks will also play under the sky on Sunday afternoon in the Heritage Classic at BC Place ... Pittsburgh dropped to 1-2-0 in outdoor games, while Chicago improved to 1-1-0 ... Pittsburgh went 0-for-6 on the power play.