Although the playoffs aren’t realistic anymore, the Blackhawks still want to end the season on as positive a note as possible, so while they fell to the Panthers 4-3 Thursday night, the Blackhawks did show they’ll give high effort by pushing it to overtime.
After a low-event start to the first period, the Blackhawks picked up some momentum after a power play and ended up striking first. Adam Gaudette scored his first goal as a Blackhawk to put them up 1-0 just over 13 minutes in. Dominik Kubalik beat out an icing call then set up Strome from below the goal line, and Gaudette shoveled in Strome’s rebound.
The first period ended with the Blackhawks up 9-8 shots on goal and 1-0 on the scoreboard.
The middle frame was more eventual than the first, and Kevin Lankinen was called upon to make some big saves early in the period.
The Panthers kept coming in waves, though, and eventually tied the game at one. Alex Wennberg tipped MacKenzie Weegar point shot on the power play with 12:13 left in the second period.
NHL Video Highlight - MacKenzie Weegar scores a power-play goal against the Chicago Blackhawks to make it 1-1. pic.twitter.com/WICML5ZlOe— Chicago Blackhawks Game Bot (@BHawksGameBot) April 30, 2021
The Blackhawks would regain the lead just over three minutes later. Brandon Hagel sent a beautiful saucer pass over a sliding Panthers’ defensemen to connect with Vinnie Hinostroza who lifted the puck past a scrambling Spencer Knight.
After the Hinostroza goal, the ice seemed to tilt in favor of the Panthers at 5-on-5, and they tied the game once again with 8:51 remaining in the period. Familiar face Anthony Duclair — who had been buzzing all night — scored off a 3-on-2 rush to even the score 2-2.
NHL Video Highlight - Anthony Duclair scores against the Chicago Blackhawks to make it 2-2. pic.twitter.com/vGWlDyeX4M— Chicago Blackhawks Game Bot (@BHawksGameBot) April 30, 2021
Discipline wasn’t a strong suit of the Blackhawks as they took two more consecutive penalties in the final half of the period. However, Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach were especially dangerous during this time: the two were robbed by Knight off the rush and then DeBrincat had a goal waived off for a high-stick.
Honestly, could watch that duo all day.
The third period was more even to start, but the Panthers took over again slightly before the midway point as Brandon Montour gave the Panthers the lead for the first time in the game with 10:51 left. A breakdown by the Blackhawks’ defense left Montour open to skate into the slot alone to score.
NHL Video Highlight - Brandon Montour scores against the Chicago Blackhawks to make it 3-2. pic.twitter.com/ae6ilG9Ube— Chicago Blackhawks Game Bot (@BHawksGameBot) April 30, 2021
Just as it felt like the Blackhawks would lose in regulation for the fourth time in five games, DeBrincat scored with 17.6 seconds remaining to make it 3-3 and send the game to overtime.
Unfortunately, the Blackhawks couldn’t complete the comeback as Sam Bennett won it for the Panthers with 52 seconds left in the overtime period.
- The Blackhawks started the game strong, owning 62.04 percent of the expected goals in all situations in the first period. If not for Spencer Knight, the Blackhawks could have been up 2-0 or 3-0 after the first 20 minutes.
- Unfortunately, the Panthers were clearly the better team in the latter two periods. They outshot the Blackhawks 29-15 and had 2.57 expected goals compared to just 1.09 for the Blackhawks.
- The second period was when Lankinen really shined in this game. He finished the game with only a .897 save percentage, but he weathered the Panthers’ storm in the middle frame and bailed out his team several times. The young goalie wasn’t up to the standard he set for the first half of the season, but it was improvement over some fumbles he’s had recently.
- Hinostroza has 10 points (3 G, 7 A) in 11 games since joining the Blackhawks this season. In addition, his growing chemistry with Hagel is exciting. Hinostroza dubbed himself and Hagel as the Bash Brothers, and while I’m not sure the moniker fits them stylistically, the comradery between the two growing on and off the ice is obvious and something that would be fun to see next season.
- Speaking of Hagel, his pass on Hinostroza’s goal was a thing of beauty. The forward has been a fan-favorite thanks to his high-energy work away from puck and tenacity on the forecheck, but his offense had bloomed recently as he has seven points (3 G, 4 A) in his last seven games.
- Not to take anything away from the Bash Brothers, but the best forward for the Blackhawks was arguably DeBrincat. He led the team in shot attempts (8), scoring chances (6), high-danger chances (4), and individual expected goals (0.62). DeBrincat had himself a game and was finally rewarded in the waning seconds, scoring his 24th goal of the season. Anyone who doubted this novelty act should take a long look in the mirror.
- DeBrincat also almost scored two shorthanded goals. Jeremy Colliton gets critiqued often for his lack of meaningful adjustments, but a lot of credit should be given to the coach for putting DeBrincat on the penalty kill. As DeBrincat has evolved into a more well-rounded player, it’s both a great opportunity for him to hone his defensive abilities and provides the Blackhawks’ PK with a legit scoring threat.
- Dach won 10 out of 12 of his faceoffs, primarily facing off against Aleksander Barkov. While faceoffs are overvalued, Dach was sub-40 percent on the season which can have an impact so any improvement for him at the dot is good.
- Mike Hardman had only two shot attempts in the game, but one was ever-so-close to being a goal as he hit the post. Would be great to see another rookie score their first before the season was over.
- With Calvin de Haan and Adam Boqvist both out of the line-up, Wyatt Kalynuk got an opportunity to play more than usual and ended up with the best relative shot attempt share (4.15) among defensemen while playing 20:30. His game wasn’t perfect, but there is obvious potential that he could be a top-4 defensemen.
- Overall, the Blackhawks were alright in this game with similar breakdowns that have been costly to them in the past, but the young players factored into all the goals and continue to show why we’re excited about the potential of this team in the future.
- Alex Wennberg (FLA) — 1 goal, 1 assist
- Brandon Montour (FLA) — 1 goal, 1 assist
- Alex DeBrincat (CHI) — 1 goal, amazing on the PK
The Blackhawks face the Panthers again on Saturday night at the United Center for a 7 p.m. start.