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Mediocrity Gets You Pears: Panthers 5, Blackhawks 4

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Chicago did that thing where they gave up a goal late in the second period and then early in the third. It’s not a good strategy.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Chicago Blackhawks Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Anthony Duclair revenge game.

The former Blackhawks forward scored twice and added an assist in a 5-4 Panthers win on Saturday night at the United Center.

Florida outshot the Blackhawks 17-14 in the opening period and also owned a 1-0 advantage by the end of it thanks to the first goal of the night from Duclair.

That 1-0 Florida lead doubled early in the second when a puck that probably should’ve made it out to the neutral zone ended up on the stick of Nikita Gusev, who went 5-hole on Chicago goalie Kevin Lankinen.

In a span of 52 seconds, that Florida lead disappeared. First, Connor Murphy scored in the waning seconds of a Chicago power play:

Adam Gaudette set up that goal with a faceoff win and then did it again on his next shift, leaving Alex DeBrincat with an easy tap-in goal:

But that tie game didn’t make it into the second intermission thanks to a goal from Florida’s No. 1 center, Aleksander Barkov:

Giving up goals in the final minute of a period is a cardinal sin. So is giving up goals in the opening minute of a period. The Blackhawks will need to go to church on Sunday because Florida added two more goals in the opening minute of the third to make it a 5-2 game, effectively putting it out of reach.

Kirby Dach made things interesting when he batted this puck out of mid-air and into the Florida net for another Blackhawks’ PPG:

Chicago made it interesting late, with a helluva pass from Patrick Kane setting up Dominik Kubalik for a goal with 18 seconds remaining. A Florida penalty with 7.8 seconds left gave Chicago an offensive zone draw with a chance for an equalizer during 6-on-4 play, but the Blackhawks couldn’t capitalize, allowing Florida to seal the win.

Notes

  • I’ll readily admit there’s confirmation bias at play and that whenever Zadorov makes a mistake it seems to register more with me than those of others, but the egregiousness of his mishap on that second Duclair just boggles the mind. It’s an easy 2-on-2 if Zadorov stays on the left side and covers Duclair. Instead, he skates over to the right side and falls down, giving Duclair a breakaway:

And even more aggravating is that Zadorov doesn’t miss a shift despite that mistake and a litany of others throughout the season.

  • That said, several other blue-liners made some substantial errors in this one. Ian Mitchell looked very much like a guy who had only played two NHL games in the last month (and those were against Detroit so they may not count). Duncan Keith was too close to the boards and late to recover on Florida’s third goal. Riley Stillman could’ve done more to recover on Gusev’s goal. Lankinen was left out to dry by his blue line all night.
  • Also, the theme of giving up a goal in the final minute of one period and the opening minute of the next is getting real fucking old.
  • A comically one-sided game at 5-on-5 play, per Natural Stat Trick. Florida had the advantages in shot attempts (77-36), shots (40-19) and scoring chances (39-20), giving the Panthers a 60.17 share of the expected goals.
  • Let’s do some positive notes. Gaudette had himself one heck of a minute in the second period. First, he won the draw that set up Murphy’s goal and then took advantage of a miserable change by Florida for the assist on DeBrincat’s goal. On Friday, Gaudette talked to the media about some stomach issues that had been bothering him over the course of his career but are things that he believes are in the past. If fixing those issues lead to more moments like those in the second period on Saturday, the Hawks could have something here.
  • Nifty hands by Dach on that goal. Hoping to see more displays of his ability in the final five games of the season.
  • Philipp Kurashev had some notable moments in his return to action, earning an assist on Dach’s goal. He only skated 14:07 which seems light for a guy who was centering DeBrincat and Kane on the top line but hopefully that number goes up down the final stretch.
  • Dominik Kubalik with a goal in 18:17 of ice time. That’s more like it.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Anthony Duclair (FLA) — 2 goals, 1 assist
  2. Aleksander Barkov (FLA) — 1 goal, 1 assist
  3. Adam Gaudette (CHI) — 2 assists

What’s next

The Blackhawks hit the road for their final road trip of the season, kicking off a three-game set in Carolina against the Hurricanes on Monday night at 6 p.m.