How it happened: The Blackhawks found a way to control the outdoor game amid snow, cold and windy conditions before an announced crowd of 62,921. Patrick Sharp got Chicago going with a goal from the right circle at 15 minutes, 35 seconds of the first period. The Blackhawks extended their advantage to 3-0 with goals by Jonathan Toews and Kris Versteeg in the second. James Neal scored the Penguins’ lone goal at 6:21 of the third period. Bryan Bickell put the Blackhawks ahead 4-1 with a goal at 13:57, and Toews added his second goal late into the frame. Pittsburgh came into the game with the league’s best power play but was shut out on six man-advantage opportunities. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 31 saves; Penguins counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury made 35.
What it means: The Blackhawks are now 1-1 in outdoor games. They previously lost 6-4 to the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in the 2009 Winter Classic. Versteeg had a goal for the Blackhawks in that game as well. With the win, the Blackhawks moved back into first place in the Central Division, improving to 36-12-14 with 86 points. The St. Louis Blues are 39-14-6 with 84 points and have played three fewer games. The Penguins dropped to 40-16-4 with 84 points. The Blackhawks and Penguins will meet again March 30 in Pittsburgh.
Player of the game: Toews got the better of Sidney Crosby in their first NHL meeting. Toews set up Sharp’s goal with a pass from behind the net in addition to scoring twice himself. He showed off some stick-handling moves while beating Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik with the puck and squeezed a shot through Fleury’s legs on his first goal.
Stat of the game: The Blackhawks were leading the Penguins 31-18 in shots on goal after going ahead 3-0 in the second period.
What’s next: The Blackhawks remain in Chicago and return to the United Center for two consecutive games. The Blackhawks host the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. The Blackhawks haven’t played at the United Center since Jan. 26.