The Chicago Blackhawks, for continuing their winning ways, deserve Pitbull. Only Pitbull.
On Tuesday night, the Blackhawks defeated the Florida Panthers 4-2, running their winning streak to four games. The Blackhawks are now even beating good teams, as the Panthers won the President’s Trophy last year.
The Blackhawks started the scoring less than three minutes into the game, as Taylor Raddysh accepted a puck just past the blue line on the power play and fired a shot from the faceoff circle that beat Sergei Bobrovsky and gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
A gorgeous tap-entry by Tyler Johnson sent the young gun Raddysh off to the races.
On the second goal, just before the end of the first period, Andreas Athanasiou and Max Domi drove the forecheck and were surrounded by Panthers defense. But those same defensive players left Patrick Kane ... wide open.
Kane, who’s used to operating in a phonebooth, wound up and picked a corner for the first time that top line has truly clicked as a unit.
The lone goal in the second period came at the end of a Blackhawks power play, as Caleb Jones sent an outlet pass to MacKenzie Entwistle, who found Philipp Kurashev in the offensive zone.
PUT ON A SHOW PHILIPP pic.twitter.com/gsPXPAvBCa— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 26, 2022
Talk about operating in a phonebooth: a nice bit of stickhandling by Kurashev helped the puck finds its way into the net. One of the Panthers’ defensemen, Gustav Forsling, was hurt on the play beforehand and was unable to get back to the Panthers’ bench following a clearing attempt.
The Panthers finally answered those three goals with one of their own late in the third period, as Eetu Luostarinen buried a rebound after multiple attempts by Florida, making it a 3-1 game. A little over a minute after Luostarinen’s goal, Matthew Tkachuk muscled past Seth Jones to redirect a shot from Brandon Montour into the net, cutting Chicago’s lead to one.
The Blackhawks survived the Panthers’ late-game onslaught, as Florida eventually pulled Bobrovsky.
In the final minutes, Jonathan Toews beat Florida’s Patric Hornqvist down the ice to save icing, then retrieved the puck and wrapped around for to score the empty-net goal, icing the game.
- Sometimes a game comes down to who has the better goaltender and in this situation it was Alex Stalock. The Blackhawks did not deserve to win this game, being badly outshot and continuing their dismal possession numbers. But Stalock did deserve the win and he took it, making 29 saves on 31 shots. Stalock faced 3.4 expected goals and made six of eight saves from high-danger areas. On the other end, Bobrovsky made 18 saves on 21 shots, faced just 1.1 expected goals against and allowed two low-danger goals.
- The Blackhawks’ special teams units continue to be the driver of this team’s success. While the penalty kill did not get another goal — a rarity this season — the power play (essentially) scored two goals. Raddysh’s came with the man advantage while Kurashev’s goal came just seconds after the player in the box had emerged.
- We keep saying the Blackhawks will fall back and that they won’t continue these winning ways, but they just beat a team they probably should have lost to. And they did so while getting absolutely decimated, as the Blackhawks had just a 26.89 percent expected goal share and 39.47 percent shot share at 5-on-5. While this is one hell of a PDO bender the Blackhawks are on, it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
- This is the kind of game you want to see not only out of the Blackhawks’ trade bait, as Athanasiou, Domi and Kane combined for a goal, but from the potential members of the roster long down the line. Both Raddysh and Kurashev scored in this game and Entwistle added a primary assist.
- Every Blackhawks’ win has felt weird or off in some way this season, and this game is no different. One goaltender stood on his head while the other let in too many weak goals, and that’s the story. Stalock has been a threat to the tank since he showed up in the preseason and looked good. Stalock doesn’t want to lose and some nights he gets the goal support he needs to not lose.
- The Blackhawks’ next opponent they probably should not beat are a set of games against the Kings a week apart early in November. Besides LA, it’s the Hurricanes on Nov. 14. While the win streak may not go on much longer, if the Blackhawks reach the five games before Thanksgiving above .500, which looks possible, there may be some cause for concern about the Bedard sweepstakes.
- A quick update on Tyler Johnson, who left with an apparent lower-body injury after this play near the boards and did not return:
Richardson says Tyler Johnson is "not good tonight" but they're hoping for good news tomorrow.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) October 26, 2022
- Philipp Kurashev (CHI) — 1 G, 0.13 ixG, 3 takeaways
- Patrick Kane (CHI) — 1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG
- Alex Stalock (CHI) — 29 SV, 3.40 xGA, .935 SV%
The Blackhawks finish their homestand Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers at 7:30 p.m.