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updated: 3/2/2014 7:16 AM

Hawks win in 'best setting you could ever want'

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  • Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford grabs a puck out of the air during the NHL Stadium Series between the Blackhawks and the Penguins Saturday at Soldier Field.

      Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford grabs a puck out of the air during the NHL Stadium Series between the Blackhawks and the Penguins Saturday at Soldier Field.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Chicago Blackhawks left wing Patrick Sharp, left, jumps into the arms of Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews after scoring in the first period during the NHL Stadium Series between the Blackhawks and the Penguins Saturday at Soldier Field.

       Chicago Blackhawks left wing Patrick Sharp, left, jumps into the arms of Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews after scoring in the first period during the NHL Stadium Series between the Blackhawks and the Penguins Saturday at Soldier Field.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Chicago Blackhawks left wing Patrick Sharp, left, jumps into the arms of Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews after scoring in the first period during the NHL Stadium Series between the Blackhawks and the Penguins Saturday at Soldier Field.

       Chicago Blackhawks left wing Patrick Sharp, left, jumps into the arms of Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews after scoring in the first period during the NHL Stadium Series between the Blackhawks and the Penguins Saturday at Soldier Field.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

Forget about all the hoopla and difficult conditions surrounding Saturday's Coors Light Stadium Series game at Soldier Field between the Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hawks winger Patrick Kane wanted to remind everyone of one thing.

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"This is a regular-season game and there is still 2 points on the table," Kane said beforehand.

And both teams wanted them badly -- especially the Hawks, who had dropped their last two games.

Led by captain Jonathan Toews, who had 2 goals and an assist, the Hawks got back on track by beating Pittsburgh 5-1 before a crowd of 62,921 at snowy and frigid Soldier Field.

It started snowing roughly three hours before faceoff and was coming down heavy throughout the first period. It made for a messy evening with the ice having to be shoveled and cleared regularly.

"Snow was everywhere," Hawks winger Patrick Sharp said.

"Probably the best setting you could ever want," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

At one point in the first period, Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook lost control of the puck when it got buried in a pile of snow. In the second period, Michal Handzus put himself offside when he lost control of the puck in a small snow drift.

The snow eased up to start the second period, but by the 10-minute mark it was back in full force.

"The conditions were the same for both teams, and they're a fast team too," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "It wouldn't have mattered if we played this game inside or outside or if there was snow or no snow. They were better and more prepared to play, whatever the conditions were. And the first half of the game was a large indication of that.

"They executed better getting there, and they were that team, and we were not."

Quenneville urged his team to one-time shots because of the snow, which is what Sharp did in the first period when he opened the scoring at 15:35.

Sharp took a pass from Toews behind the net and whipped it past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury before Fleury could make a move to stop it.

Toews made it 2-0 at 10:48 of the second period when he raced around Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik and slid the puck through Fleury.

"He doesn't surprise us anymore with whatever he does," goalie Corey Crawford said. "We're going to need our top gunners to do that down the stretch."

It was the first regular-season meeting between Sidney Crosby and Toews, who clearly won the matchup.

Crosby said he looked forward to finally playing against Toews, the Canadian Olympic teammate with whom he won a gold medal in Sochi, Russia.

"He's a great player and I just tried to make him play in his own end," Toews said.

"The score was 5-1, and if it was a straight-up matchup, Jonathan had 2 goals, and we didn't match that," Bylsma said. "I didn't look at it as a straight up matchup in a 1-on-1 competition. Our team wasn't good enough. Our team wasn't at the level we needed to be, and they were."

It became 3-0 at 16:43 of the second period when Kris Versteeg scored on a pass from Kane off a 3-on-1 rush. Kane had hit the post twice earlier in the game.

Versteeg also scored in the Hawks' first outdoor game in the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.

"I'll take it," Versteeg said. "It was really exciting to score at Wrigley and it was exciting to score tonight. It was a different kind of game than we're used to with the conditions. You could lose the puck real easily."

After Seabrook scored an own goal early in the third period that was credited to James Neal, the Hawks responded with a goal from Bryan Bickell with 6:03 to play.

Bickell jammed in his own rebound after Fleury made the initial stop.

Toews closed the scoring late in the third period.

The Hawks' penalty killers were 6-for-6 in kills against the league's best power play.

"I thought our penalty killing was outstanding," Quenneville said. "We got some help from the tough conditions with the snow making it tough on them to make passes."

Bickell said the Hawks did exactly what their coach wanted.

"We kept it simple and executed well," Bickell said. "Practice yesterday kind of let us know what the atmosphere was going to be like. Conditions out there were tough, but we're happy with the 2 points."

Crawford made 31 saves playing without the mask he had made special for the occasion that never showed up.

"I have no clue where it is," Crawford said. "I don't know. Reebok doesn't know. Fed Ex doesn't know. I'm over it now. I had all day (Friday) to stress about it."

The only down side to the night was the Hawks losing Marian Hossa in the first period with an upper body injury suffered on a hard hit by Craig Adams.

"He might miss some time," Quenneville said. "Not long-term, but we'll know more Monday."

•Follow Tim's Blackhawks and hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone.

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