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Looking For the Crest of a New Wave: Blackhawks 3, Panthers 2

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Chicago withstood a late Florida surge for its first win over the Panthers this season.

Florida Panthers v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For the first time this season, the Blackhawks notched a win over the Panthers, holding on late for a 3-2 win on Tuesday night at the United Center.

Chicago greeted its visitors with a pair of first-period goals, the first coming off the stick of Dominik Kubalik after a nifty saucer pass from Brandon Hagel:

Pius Suter doubled the Blackhawks’ advantage with this neat redirect of Nikita Zadorov shot from the point:

Chicago’s two-goal lead was stretched to three early in the second period, thanks to a power-play tally from Carl Soderberg — largely set up by the patience and vision of Patrick Kane:

But multi-goal leads have been the Blackhawks’ kryptonite all season. Just four minutes after Soderberg’s goal, Anton Stralman scored to make it a 3-1 Chicago lead. The Blackhawks persevered, though, maintaining that lead until well into the third period, thanks to some acrobatic saves from goaltender Kevin Lankinen. Like this one:

Alexander Wennberg scored on the power play with 4:38 left in the game to make it a 3-2 game, sending the heart rates of Blackhawks fans into the ceiling. But this dam would not break, as Chicago eked out the final moments of the game — aided by a Florida penalty — to acquire two crucial points in the standings.

Notes

  • It’s now becoming a nightly occurrence for Adam Boqvist to do something that raises eyebrows. A slick move in the offensive zone in the first period and a perfect pass to Soderberg late in the third that should’ve resulted in a goal. It feels like a deluge of points should be following with the way Boqvist is playing.
  • For two periods, Chicago had advantages in the quantity (38-33 in shot attempts) and quality (59.2 percent share of expected goals) departments over one of the best possession teams in the league. The Panthers narrowed those gaps in the third but Chicago was still above 50-50 in all categories by game’s end. Impressive development.
  • Excellent rebound performance from Kevin Lankinen, who’d been in need of a game like that after some less-than-stellar outings earlier this month.
  • The Everything BHagel™ continues to impress whenever he’s on the ice. The sweet saucer pass to Kubalik was a sight to behold and is speed continues to antagonize opposing D-men. Chicago just might have the type of third/fourth-liner it’s been lacking for years with Hagel’s emergence.
  • MacKenzie Entwistle played just 6:03, tallying two shots on goal and three hits. Fairly difficult to get a decent read on Entwistle in such a minimal sample size.
  • Yes, Florida was missing its top center in Sasha Barkov, who departed during the pregame skate with an injury. But even without Barkov, Florida’s lineup is still far better than that of teams that have outshot and out-chanced the Blackhawks consistently in 2021. Doing it once is a great place to start. Now the Blackhawks need to prove they’re capable of this type of consistent, all-around performances more often.
  • It’s also a positive development that Chicago build a 3-0 lead, had moments when Florida appeared ready to make that lead disappear, but steadied the ship enough to remain in front. Hasn’t happened enough in the last month.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Kevin Lankinen (CHI) — 33 saves
  2. Patrick Kane (CHI) — 2 assists, 24:02 TOI
  3. Brandong Hagel (CHI) — 1 assist, 13:22 TOI

What’s next

The Blackhawks face the Panthers again on Thursday night at the United Center for a 7 p.m. start.