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Please Be Patient with Me: Blackhawks attempt two-game sweep of Panthers

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Chicago notched its first victory against Florida this season on Tuesday.

Florida Panthers v Chicago Blackhawks
Pius Suter of the Chicago Blackhawks looks for a pass in front of Gustav Forsling of the Florida Panthers at the United Center
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Blackhawks have faced the Panthers five times this season but didn’t have a win until Tuesday’s 3-2 victory, which was the first time the two teams met at the United Center. Chicago will look for a second win over Florida on Thursday night.

The Blackhawks scored all three of their goals early in the game — their last score came 4:22 into the second period — but were able to sit on the three-goal lead, even if it whittled away to one by the end. The Blackhawks continued their tradition of being on their heels throughout the third period, as they’ve given up more expected goals than they’ve generated in all five third periods against Florida.

The Blackhawks now have three victories in the month of March, with one over every team they’ve faced in the month (Dallas, Tampa and now Florida). Florida’s goaltender Chris Driedger — who gave up three goals on 2.9 expected goals against on Tuesday — now has a .909 save percentage and has given up 1.63 goals above expected in the month of March. Sergei Bobrovsky hasn’t been better. He has a .907 save percentage and has given up 3.3 goals above expected since March 1.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, saw Kevin Lankinen make 33 saves on 35 shots (.943 save percentage) on Tuesday. It’s the first time in four games Lankinen was over a .900 save percentage. He now has a .895 save percentage in March, while allowing 5.64 goals above expected (for comparison’s sake, Malcolm Subban’s at a .880 save percentage and has given up 1.96 goals above expected this month). That means this game will likely be a battle between goaltenders struggling in this month of Madness.

The Panthers will again be without Aleksander Barkov — their leading scorer against the Blackhawks, with nine points — as he was hurt in warmups on Tuesday. However, the Panthers still have plenty of proven scoring talent and players who have put up points on the Blackhawks. Jonathan Huberdeau has seven points, including one goal, so far this season against Chicago. Carter Verhaeghe has four goals and seven points, and Patric Hornqvist has three goals and five points.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have seen scoring from Duncan Keith (six points, all assists against Florida) and Dominik Kubalik (two goals and five points, all primary). Patrick Kane has four points in five games against Florida and Alex DeBrincat has just one point (a goal). Those two proved critical in Tuesday’s game.

The Blackhawks have the best shot share against the Panthers this season with 49.8 percent. They’re fourth in expected goal share 47.35 percent and sixth in high-danger share with 41.25 percent. With that said, the Blackhawks will need their goaltenders and offense to step up again to get their second win against Florida.

Blackhawks — Statistic — Panthers

46.87% (27th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 52.38% (6th)

45.59% (30th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 53.58% (4th)

2.91 (16th) — Goals per game — 3.31 (7th)

3.21 (26th) — Goals against per game — 2.78 (14th)

46.3% (27th) — Faceoffs — 49.8% (19th)

28.2% (3rd) — Power play — 26.0% (6th)

72.0% (28th) — Penalty kill — 80.6% (13th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

DeBrincat — Suter — Kane

Kubalik — Kampf — Hagel

Janmark — Carpenter — Strome

Entwistle — Soderberg — Kurashev

Keith — Mitchell

de Haan — Boqvist

Zadorov — Murphy

Lankinen

Subban

Panthers

Verhaeghe — Barkov — Duclair

Huberdeau — Wennberg — Hornqvist

Vatrano — Luostarinen — Tippett

Marchment — Acciari — Lomberg

Weegar — Ekblad

Forsling — Gudas

Yandle — Stralman

Bobrovsky/Driedger

How to watch

When: 7 p.m.

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.TV