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Blackhawks fall to Panthers 4-3 behind Vatrano’s hat trick

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Chicago’s five-game winning streak comes to an end in Joel Quenneville’s return to the United Center.

Florida Panthers v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

The Blackhawks lost 4-3 to the Panthers on Tuesday at United Center behind Frank Vatrano’s hat trick and Sergei Bobrovsky’s 32 saves.

This after honoring Patrick Kane’s 1000th career point before the game (he’d score 1001 in it). Oh, and they did it in front of former head coach, perhaps the greatest head coach in Blackhawks’ history, Joel Quenneville, now behind the bench in Florida, in his return to Chicago. Here’s the Blackhawks video honoring him:

The game sends the Blackhawks to the All-Star Break, and their subsequent bye week, on a sour note, ending a five-game winning streak while extending Florida’s winning streak to six.

Sergei Bobrovsky, who despite a poor performance so far this season, looked like the old version of himself in Chicago, making 32 saves on 35 shots. Kirby Dach got the Blackhawks’ first goal on his 19th birthday, and Drake Caggiula got the second in the third period, while Patrick Kane scored towards the end of the game for point number 1001.

On the other end, Frank Vatrano scored a hat trick and Evgenii Dadonov picked up a goal for the Panthers as Robin Lehner made just 22 saves on 26 shots.

How it Happened

A scoreless first period saw the Blackhawks and Panthers play pretty even hockey, as the Blackhawks led 5-on-5 shot attempts 12-11 and the Panthers led shots on goal 7-6. Chicago led with just .61 expected goals on the period, across all strengths. The Blackhawks took a penalty in the first period, but one that was killed off.

In the second, Lehner’s dam broke, as he allowed four goals against on 13 shots. The Panthers only had 1.13 expected goals on the period, behind the Blackhawks’ 1.14.

The scoring began with Evgeni Dadonov driving in a rebound that Lehner thought he had in control:

Dadonov stays with the play, despite having Jonathan Toews on him, and gets the puck over the skate and pad of Lehner.

Vatrano would then score his first of three in the second period, perhaps the prettiest of his hat trick, as Slater Koekkoek provided an unwitting screen on Lehner:

Vatrano’s second goal came on the breakaway, as he went five-hole on Lehner, four minutes after his first goal. He completed the hat trick on a deflection as he crashed the net on the power play for Florida.

The Blackhawks did manage one goal in that second period, as Dach scored on his first day as a 19 year old:

The goal broke a 13-game drought for Dach, and was Alex DeBrincat’s second assist in as many games.

Caggiula would deflect Erik Gustafsson’s shot on the power play past Bobrovsky and into the net, extending Gustafsson’s point streak to three games and giving Caggiula his third goal in four games:

The Blackhawks would get one more goal with an empty net before the game was over, as Kane scored to extend his 11-game scoring streak, his first goal in nine games. Dach made a silky smooth cross slot pass to Kane, who squared the puck up and fired it past Bobrovsky:

Chicago moved to 24-21-6 and remain three points out of a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

Game Charts

Puck possession flow chart (5-on-5)
Natural Stat Trick
Shot heat map (All situations)
Natural Stat Trick

Three Stars

1. Frank Vatrano (FLA) — 3 G, 3 shots

2. Kirby Dach (CHI) — 1 G, 1 A, 2 shots, 2 takeaways

3. Mike Hoffman (FLA) — 2 assists, 1 shot

What’s next?

The Blackhawks start an extended break and will face the Coyotes at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 1 at Gila River Arena.