Maatta and co. impress at Blackhawks’ scrimmage

Pittsburgh Penguins' Olli Maatta in action during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

by Scott King

Once again Chicago Blackhawks fans were treated to an early look at the team during their annual red and white scrimmage at the United Center on Sunday morning.

Corey Crawford was in net for Team Red and Robin Lehner was between the pipes for Team White for the first period.

Jonathan Toews of Team Red welcomed the UC crowd with a speech then nearly scored on Lehner with a mini-breakaway shortly after puck drop.

Olli Maatta fed Brandon Saad from behind the net to give Red a 1-0 lead in the first period.

Lehner stopped forward prospect Tim Soderlund on a penalty shot later in the period and Anton Wedin scored from the left circle to make it 2-0 Red after one period. The two first period Team Red goals were less than two minutes apart.

Goalie prospect Alexis Gravel took Red’s net to start the second and prospect Matt Tomkins did the same for White.

Alex Nylander scored on a penalty shot in the second period against Tomkins to give Red a 3-0 lead.

“I’m just trying to do my best out here and take whatever is given to me,” Nylander said after the scrimmage. “Just do good, play my game and good things will happen I think. I’ve just been working really hard this summer and I’m trying to take that with me from the past three years in Buffalo and try to be the best player I can be.”

Kris Versteeg scored for White with a slick move on a breakaway against Gravel to make it 3-1.

Goalies Collin Delia (White) and Kevin Lankinen (Red) took the net for period three.

After a scoreless third, Maatta beat Delia 25 seconds into overtime to make it 4-1 Red. He finished the scrimmage with a goal and an assist.

“I think the most important thing for my game is definitely defense,” Maatta said. “I think that’s what I take pride in. When there’s moments, when there’s opportunities to jump in, I think everybody has to do that, that’s hockey. Nowadays when you watch teams that have success they get all five men on offense and defend with all five men.”

Tyler Sikura made it 5-1 Red in OT on a 2-on-1 for the final score.

Adam Boqvist and Dominik Kubalik scored in the shootout for Team Red.

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