Oh, if only the Pittsburgh Penguins actually kicked the tires a little harder on rookie Artemi Panarin last summer. If they did, they might not have fallen into this time loop where the Blackhawks rookie continuously scores on them at will. It's not really a time loop, but on back-to-back nights, Panarin picked up two goals against the Penguins on the Blackhawks home-and-home series with the club from Pittsburgh.
It was the Panarin Show on Tuesday and Wednesday for the Blackhawks, who owe four of their six goals against the Penguins to the young winger from Russia. Alongside Patrick Kane and fellow newcomer Artem Anisimov, Panarin has been something special for the Blackhawks. The trio itself is a huge reason as to why Kane is on track for a career year, as the second line for Chicago has developed a chemistry that oftentimes is really a once-in-a-lifetime deal.
The Penguins themselves mostly slumbered through both games, but the sting of Panarin's domination was felt well after the game on Wednesday, if Marc-Andre Fleury is any indication.
Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury on Artemi Panarin: "I'd heard about him. I'd seen him and stuff. He pissed me off now, though." #Blackhawks— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) January 7, 2016
The anger on Pittsburgh's side is also probably not just directed at Panarin, either. Considering their lack of effort led to the rookie skating past all five defenders unimpeded on Chicago's opening goal, the Penguins most definitely have a right to be upset with their efforts on Wednesday.
Panarin's recent dominance not only has given the winger full control over the league lead in points (38) and goals (15) by a rookie, he's helped the Blackhawks to their first five-game winning streak of the season. It's safe to say the Penguins are happy they've faced the last of Panarin and the Blackhawks for the regular season.
Chicago Blackhawks 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 1
3 things we learned
1. Montreal used two late goals to best New Jersey
Despite the overall quiet night across the league, the Canadiens shook off a bad loss to the Flyers from Tuesday to beat the Devils 2-1 for their first win at home since Dec. 12. Goals with less than two minutes to play in the first two periods by Max Pacioretty and Torrey Mitchell respectively both came on special teams play, one a power play tally and the other a shorthanded goal. The Devils made it interesting with a goal 50 seconds into the third period from Adam Henrique, but netminder Mike Condon shut the door with a 17-save outing.
2. Ducks continue to wallow at the bottom of the league in goals for
After getting shutout by the Toronto Maple Leafs at home in a 39 shot effort, the Anaheim Ducks still haven't found a solution to their scoring problems. Though they're no longer clinging to the bottom of the league and are six points out of a Wild Card spot, Anaheim is still dead last in the NHL in goals for with 73. To top it all off, the team's leading scorer Corey Perry -- who has 25 points -- was taken in the All-Star Game in a spot where Canucks Henrik Sedin -- who has nine more points than Perry -- could have been taken, as Anaheim deservedly will bring along netminder John Gibson to fulfill their one-player quota from each team.
3. Hurricanes falter on last minute power play goal
The Canucks overtook the fourth spot in the Pacific Division thanks to a late Hurricane mistake that cost Carolina a chance at overtime. The fan favorite delay of game penalty for a puck over the glass struck again, and the Hurricanes were powerless to stop Vancouver's power play on Bo Horvat's fifth tally of the year.
If you weren't around on Twitter during the late afternoon on Wednesday, you probably missed the three big moves that went down across the league. The Flyers, Kings, Capitals, Blue Jackets and Predators all were in the mix for various trades and signings, which you can find more information about each of the moves in our stream from last night. The highlights, however? We've got you covered.
For those who missed it: Lecavalier, L. Schenn (PHI) ↔️ Weal (LAK), 2016 3rd rounder Mike Richards ➡️ Capitals Johansen (CBJ) ↔️ Jones (NSH)— SB Nation NHL (@SBNationNHL) January 7, 2016
Impact Moment II
This overtime winner from Gabriel Landeskog deserves more than a special mention as the Avalanche stormed back from a two goal deficit to win their game in overtime against the Blues 4-3. Goaltender Jake Allen made a huge risk on this play and paid the price in the loss for St. Louis.
Stat of the Night