Blackhawks head into All-Star Break with wins over Coyotes, Pens

NBCSN and the NHL have dubbed Wednesday night's games "Rivalry Night". While the Blackhawks and Penguins don't have much of an in-season rivalry, their respective Captains - Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby - are frequently pitted against one another in discussions.

As two of the best teams in the league, albeit for different conferences, it should be expected that games between these two powerhouses are entertaining. And Wednesday night's game was certainly that.

Defenseman David Rundblad opened the scoring 6:56 into the first with an even-strength goal. After scoring just 2 goals in his first 80 NHL games, he doubled his career goals in the past two nights of play.

Marian Hossa scored next on the power play, making it 2-0 early in the second. And then the tide began to turn.

Scratches for Pittsburgh included Kris Letang and Evengi Malkin, but that didn't seem to matter for the Penguins. Zach Gill was rewarded with his first career NHL goal to get the Penguins on the board at the 5:21 mark in the second, and Steve Downie would tie up the game 2-2 several minutes later.

By early in the third, the Penguins had a sizeable lead on shot attempts and hits, and suppressing the Blackhawks' attempts on goal for almost half of the third period.

The Blackhawks managed to hold on to reach overtime, and survived that to reach the shootout, which has been incredibly successful for Corey Crawford. This time was no exception: he turned away the Penguins' first two shooters, while both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane scored on Marc-Andre Fleury. The Blackhawks won, 3-2.

THREE STARS
1. Marian Hossa - CHI
2. Brandon Saad - CHI
3. Zach Sill - PIT

The Blackhawks had a 6-1 romp of a win versus the Coyotes on Tuesday night, and then gritted out a 3-2 win versus the Penguins on Wednesday. They'll head into the All-Star Break on a high note.

Five Blackhawks - Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Corey Crawford - were voted into the All-Star Game by the fans. The rest of the team, and their coaches, will enjoy some time off while those five head to Columbus.

For those players, it will feel better heading to the All-Star Game. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson noted after tonight's contest, "It would have felt like we didn’t deserve to have a break if we would have lost all these games."

Starting Wednesday, when the Blackhawks return from the break, they will be heading out on their annual February "Ice Show" trip. Like the November Circus Trip, a two-week commitment at the United Center sends the Blackhawks and the Bulls out on the road.

The Blackhawks will have their second road trip to the Pacific division, beginning in Los Angeles versus the Kings. From there, they'll face Anaheim, San Jose, Minnesota, Winnipeg, and St. Louis, before returning home on February 9th to once again face the Coyotes.

Tonight's win put the Blackhawks at 62 points, which makes them third in the Central behind the Blues, who also have 62 points, but one game in hand and 25 ROW versus 24. The Central remains highly competitive, with the Jets jockeying for a top-3 division position. Nashville continues to lead the Central, with 65 points and one game in hand over the Blues, two over Chicago.