Richard Panik scored the game-tying goal in the third period and Scott Darling stood tall in the shootout as the Chicago Blackhawks earned a 5-4 comeback win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
With much of Chicago focused on what’s happening a few miles away at Wrigley Field, the Hawks gave those paying attention a roller coaster ride toward their most exciting win of the season.
Things looked dire for the Blackhawks until the final minutes of the third period. The Leafs led, 4-2, when Artem Anisimov scored his second goal of the night to cut the deficit in half. A minute later, with Darling pulled for an extra attacker, Panik tied the game with his NHL-leading sixth goal of the season.
In overtime, the Hawks had a number of big chances that never bore fruit. The Leafs committed two penalties in OT, giving Chicago extended time with a 4-on-3 advantage, but Frederik Andersen made some big saves and the Hawks’ patient approach never broke through.
Instead, things got decided in the shootout, where Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews beat Andersen to clinch the win as only Auston Matthews scored for Toronto. Scott Darling sprawled to fight off a shot from Mitch Marner to clinch the victory.
Panarin opened the scoring in the first period with a positively spectacular assist. After making a nifty play to get by his defender, Panarin managed to find the puck while tangled up and deliver a perfect dish to Anisimov, who fired it in.
Panarin now has two goals and three assists in five games this season. Four of those four points have come at even strength, although with just 12 shots on goal on the year, the Russian winger will need to get more pucks on net if he wants another 30-goal season.
The secondary forwards continue to shoulder the scoring load for Chicago. Nobody in the NHL has scored more goals this season than Panik, and Anisimov is in the top 10 with four. It’s hard to see those guys sustaining their production, but with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews combining for just one goal so far, those guys should take over soon.
Anisimov finished the win with two goals and Panarin with two assists. Brian Campbell had a productive night with three assists, including dimes on the final two goals, and Duncan Keith had a pair of assists, too. Tyler Motte scored the other goal, his second as a member of the Hawks.
Chicago is now 3-3-0 on the season, and it’s fair to say the team is a work-in-progress. The penalty kill in particular is a real issue that hasn’t been sorted out yet. But the comeback tonight showed why it’s too early to get too worried as this team figures out just what it is.