CHICAGO (AP) — Patrick Kane had his second hat trick in three games, Scott Darling made 36 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory and 10th in 11 games.
Richard Panik also scored to help Chicago pull within three points of first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference. Kane, last season’s MVP, has a team-leading 27 goals — scoring 12 times and adding seven assists in his last 11 games.
Scott Wilson scored for Pittsburgh as the Penguins fell short again after a 3-2 loss at Dallas on Tuesday night. It was the first meeting this season between the last two Stanley Cup winners.
Darling started a second straight game in place of Corey Crawford, the No. 1 goalie who has been fighting an illness. Crawford said he felt much better following Wednesday’s morning skate and was on the bench to back up Darling.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 25 shots for Pittsburgh in his first start in two weeks.
Chicago center Artem Anisimov left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury.
The Penguins and Blackhawks both made deals for defensemen before Wednesday’s trade deadline. The teams added blue line depth as they once again aim for deep postseason runs.
The defending champion Penguins kept Fleury through the deadline, opting to keep the franchise’s all-time leader in victories while instead trading draft picks and role players to bolster an injury-ravaged defense.
Pittsburgh acquired defenseman Mark Streit from Tampa Bay on Wednesday after the 39-year-old had been dealt from Philadelphia to the Lightning earlier in the day. Pittsburgh also brought in Frankie Corrado from Toronto and assigned him to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL.
Defenseman Johnny Oduya, re-acquired by the Blackhawks from Dallas on Tuesday night, arrived at the United Center a few hours before Wednesday’s game but didn’t play.
Kane opened the scoring at 8:49 of the second.
Rookie Nick Schmaltz stripped the puck from Jake Guentzel at the Chicago blue line, then quickly whipped it the other direction to Kane who closed in on a 2 on 1. Kane fooled Fleury with a low shot between the legs,.
Wilson tied it at 1 with 3 minutes left in the second on a rising backhander from the right circle that slipped over Darling’s glove.
Wilson’s shot popped back out of the net so quickly that the goal wasn’t immediately ruled a score. Play continued for 29 seconds before the horn sounded, and the goal underwent a video review and was allowed.
Panik put Chicago back in front 2-1 with 24 seconds left in the period with 17th goal. He made a power move down the slot around Chris Kunitz and beat Fleury high on the glove side.
Darling was at his best in the third to preserve the lead. His stops included a point-blank glove save on Matt Cullen at 5:01.
Kane made it 3-1 on a wrist shot from the right circle with 3:08 remaining. He completed his fourth career regular-season hat trick with an empty-netter with 40.7 seconds remaining.
NOTES: Blackhawks D Niklas Hjalmarsson missed his second game with an upper-body injury. Although Hjalmarsson is on IR on retroactive to Feb. 23, GM Stan Bowman said the condition is not serious. … Oduya, a member of Chicago’s 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup teams, returned from an ankle injury and played his first game in more than a month Sunday for the Stars against Boston. Coach Joel Quenneville said he wanted to give the 35-year-old a chance to settle in. … The Penguins placed D Trevor Daley on long-term injured reserve Wednesday (left knee surgery.) D Olli Maatta is still out a few more weeks after having hand surgery while D Kris Letang missed his third game (upper-body). … Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said F Conor Sheary, who missed has missed 13 games (upper-body) skated in Pittsburgh and “has made significant progress.”
Penguins: Host Tampa Bay on Friday night.
Blackhawks: Host the New York Islanders on Friday night.
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