Along the boards: Blackhawks drop last game before break, lose to Panthers 4–3


The Chicago Blackhawks came into Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers riding high. They had won their last five games, and had looked good doing it, with Patrick Kane in particular coming into the game on a high note, putting up his 1,000th NHL point against the Winnipeg Jets, a milestone that few achieve, especially in less than 1,000 games. This would be the Hawks’ last game before the all-star break, as they do not play again until Feb. 1.

First period

There was a good amount of back and forth to begin the period, with the Panthers getting some good chances in on Robin Lehner with their fourth line in particular putting good pressure on. Brian Boyle generated a couple of good shots on goal in the frame, and defenseman Mark Pysyk, playing on that line as well, also made some noise for Florida. The Blackhawks had a few good chances of their own, getting guys in front of the net and getting pucks there. Just when it looked like the Blackhawks may get a power play because the Panthers had too many men on the ice, Adam Boqvist put the puck right into the crowd, putting the Blackhawks on the penalty kill instead. They killed it off with relative ease, with players like Ryan Carpenter and Zack Smith laying out to block shots and get the puck back out of the zone. The period would end just as it started, with no score but a lot of action.

Second period

The second period began with a lot more action down on the Panthers’ side of the ice with the Blackhawks controlling the play for much of the first few minutes. It eventually swung the other way, with the Panthers getting more and more opportunities on the Blackhawks’ net. This eventually led to two quick goals for the Panthers, with Evgenii Dadonov managing to sneak one past Lehner to make it 1–0 Panthers. Then, a minute and a half later, Frank Vatrano put a wrister right past the glove side of Lehner on a good feed from behind the net to make it 2–0 Panthers. The Blackhawks got a power play when Dominik Kubalik was tripped up taking the puck up the ice. Chicago was unable to put the puck in the net, but did get some good opportunities even still. As soon as the Panthers had killed off the power play, Aaron Ekblad came out of the box and took a pass from a teammate, finding Vatrano again streaking up the wing. He skated in an wristed the puck five hole on Lehner to make it 3–0 Florida. Just over three minutes later, Kirby Dach, celebrating his 19th birthday, took a pass from Alex DeBrincat, skated in and put a backhander over the shoulder of Sergei Bobrovsky in Kane-esque fashion, drawing the Blackhawks within two and making the score 3–1 Panthers. Late in the period, DeBrincat got called for a trip, putting the Blackhawks back on the penalty kill again. After several good sequences for the Blackhawks, the Panthers took advantage of a failed clear by Carpenter, making the score 4–1 Panthers and giving Vatrano the hat trick, as the puck went off of him in front of the net before going in. That is how the period would end, with the Panthers getting out to a big lead.

Third period

The period started off well for the Blackhawks, gaining a power play with just over two minutes gone by in the period on a Keith Yandle hold. Erik Gustafsson put a one-timer on net late in the power play and Drake Caggiula got a tip out in front to put it past Bobrovsky, cutting the score to 4–2 Panthers. After a couple more good Blackhawks chances, David Kampf got taken down by Noel Acciari to give the Blackhawks another man advantage in the period. They got some good opportunities, along with a Brandon Saad shot after, but they were not able to put anything past Bobrovsky. With five minutes left, the Blackhawks got yet another power play on a high stick from Mike Hoffman. Chicago was unable to generate much offense and needed more puck movement to try to get things going. With just over two minutes left in the game, the Blackhawks pulled Lehner, hoping to spark something and mount a comeback. They did, with Kane scoring his 25th goal of the year on a nifty cross-ice pass from Dach to get within one and make the score 4–3 Panthers. However, the Panthers got a power play again in the last 30 seconds of the game and just played keep away to get the win. Let’s go along the boards and see what was being talked about this game.

This was a cool thing to see. Not only did the Blackhawks put up a tribute to Kane for his 1,000-point milestone, but they also welcomed “Coach Q” back with a montage as well. Some would argue that Quenneville never should have been let go, but hey, that may just be me.

Yeah, that beam was a mile wide. And it definitely was for all Blackhawks fans who were able to watch Kane score point No. 1,000 on Sunday night. What a special moment, and who better to share it with than the coach who was with him to score so many of his 1,000 points.

Sadly, it was too little, too late. The Hawks did not look good tonight and gave up too many opportunities from turnovers, with bad passes and poor decisions, along with Lehner not playing up to his usual standard.

The Blackhawks now have a week and a half off until Feb. 1 when they are back in action against the Arizona Coyotes. That game will be at 7 p.m. CST on NBC Sports Chicago.

Center Ice Forums Along the boards: Blackhawks drop last game before break, lose to Panthers 4–3

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