The opponent was not as formidable but the results remained the same: Chicago lost its third straight game to open the 2021 season on Sunday night, a 5-2 loss to the Panthers in Florida.
A scoreless first period was followed up by a quick start to the second for the home team, with Aaron Ekblad’s point shot taking a few deflections before finding its way in to the Blackhawks net, just 12 seconds into the period. Keith Yandle doubled that advantage five minutes later with Chicago goalie Collin Delia out of position:
The Blackhawks got on the board later in the second with a power play tally from Alex DeBrincat:
The second period ended that way, with Florida ahead 2-1. In the third, Chicago tied the score on this seeing-eye point shot from defenseman Connor Murphy:
The tie game lasted all of 22 seconds. Eetu Luostarinen scored to restore Florida’s lead and then Patric Hornqvist put the game out of reach a few minutes later thanks to a fortunate bounce off the stick of Chicago’s Calvin de Haan. Jonathan Huberdeau added some late insurance to ensure that the Blackhawks would allow five goals for the third straight game.
- Ice time deployment in the first period was a problem. Dylan Strome skated 2:47, Dominik Kubalik played 2:17 and Philipp Kurashev was at one-freaking-28. The first two are among the Blackhawks best offensive performers and the third could develop into one. Each team had one power play so that can’t be used as an excuse. Hard to score goals when your best offensive players aren’t seeing the ice!
[UPDATE] Colliton discussed this when addressing the media:
Colliton pre-empts ice-time questions: "The ice times were totally out of whack on the stats report that we got, so we were also wondering what was going on, because they didn’t match up with what we saw."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) January 18, 2021
- Adam Boqvist’s name earned a lot of mentions on the broadcast and on social media after his apparent benching late in the second period. His absence was most notable on the power play, an area of the game that should benefit Boqvist’s offensive-minded game. No, Boqvist hasn’t been great. But it’s hard to find any player on the team who has been. Why Boqvist gets sent to the bench when the team can’t do much of anything right is a mystery. Credit to Boqvist for returning to the ice in the third period and setting up Kubalik for a prime scoring chance that Kubalik was just wide on.
- Alex DeBrincat ripping one-timers from the faceoff dot is about the only thing that’s been fun to watch through the first three games.
- It sucked that Pius Suter’s first career assist was disallowed, considering the creativity it took to spin on the backhand and get this puck over to Kane for an easy tap-in:
Suter got on the scoresheet later thanks to a faceoff win that set up Murphy’s goal, but that 2-on-1 play is a good early sign for Chicago’s most recent European import.
- Another mixed-bag performance from a Blackhawks goaltender. Delia made some good saves, allowed a few goals he probably wants back and also surrendered one as a result of being caught wildly out of position. The assumption here is that Malcolm Subban gets the net for the next game or perhaps Kevin Lankinen gets to make his NHL debut. Either way, the turnstile in the Blackhawks net will continue to spin.
- Just a general thought: few projections have the Panthers as a playoff team. Most had them down near the bottom of the Central Division with Chicago and Detroit. This game may have been closer than the Tampa two but still feels more one-sided than it should. Yeah, it’s only the third game of the season. But with a rematch looming on Tuesday and then two against the also-not-good Red Wings waiting later in the week, the Blackhawks have to get this season back on the rails fast because the schedule won’t get any easier the following week.
- Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA) — 1 goal, 2 assists
- Eetu Luostarinen (FLA) — 1 goal, 1 assist
- Patric Hornqvist (FLA) — 1 goal, 1 assist
The Blackhawks face the Panthers again on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.