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Ocean Avenue: Blackhawks-Panthers Preview

One of the NHL’s top teams visits the United Center on Saturday.

Florida Panthers v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks are looking to end their two-game losing skid on Sunday afternoon at the United Center, but that’s a tall task when their matinee opponent is one of the best in the league: the Florida Panthers.

Florida currently owns the second highest point total in the league with 73 and is the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference. Florida’s been on fire of late, too, winning eight of its last 10 games including a 6-2 beatdown of the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.

Many of the familiar names are dotting the top of the scoring for the Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau has a team-high 68 points (17 G, 51 A), Sam Reinhart has 46 (17 G, 29 A) and Aaron Ekblad is back from his season-ending injury with 45 (12 G, 33 A).

Sergei Bobrovsky handles the net and has been playing well with a 25-4-3 record, .919 save percentage and 2.52 goals-against average.

The Panthers are only weakness are on special teams, both of which are mediocre. However, their 5-on-5 play is so dominant — they’re top three in the league in every shot category — that they can survive with less than stellar power play and penalty kill. It’s going to be a tall task for the Blackhawks this afternoon.

As for the Blackhawks, expect much of the same from Friday’s game against the Dallas Stars:

Blackhawks — Statistic — Panthers

46.63% (27th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 55.91% (1st)

45.99% (27th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 55.19% (3rd)

2.37 (30th) — Goals per game — 4.10 (1st)

3.31 (24th) — Goals against per game — 2.86 (15th)

48.8% (19th) — Faceoffs — 46.9% (29th)

19.9% (16th) — Power play — 20.7% (15th)

75.0% (28th) — Penalty kill — 78.7% (19th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Hagel — Reichel — Kane

DeBrincat — Strome — Kubalik

Kurashev — Dach — Lafferty

Entwistle — Carpenter — Borgstrom

de Haan — S. Jones

C. Jones — Murphy

McCabe — Regula

Fleury

Soderblom

Panthers

Verhaeghe — Barkov — Duclair

Huberdeau — Bennett — Hornqvist

Marchment — Lundell — Reinhart

Lomberg — Luostarinen — Acciari

Vatrano — Thornton — Mamin

Weegar — Ekblad

Forsling — Gudas

Carlsson — Montour

Bobrovsky

Johansson

How to watch

When: 2:00 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Webstream: ESPN+