The Chicago Blackhawks came into Saturday night’s action looking to get things back on track. They looked like an ECHL team on Monday against the Arizona Coyotes, getting utterly destroyed by their competition that frankly is not any better of a team than they are. Nikita Zaitsev would check into the lineup for this game, Taylor Hall got back off of IR and Petr Mrazek started in net for the Blackhawks as they looked to get things rolling.
— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) November 4, 2023
The Blackhawks dominated the early portion of the game, getting the first six shots on net and going on the power play early on a Kevin Stenlund interference call. Seth Jones took a shot from the point that hit Gustav Forsling out in front. The puck bounced right to Nick Foligno, who potted his second of the season to make it 1–0 Blackhawks. Three minutes later, Philipp Kurashev picked up his own rebound and fed it in between the circles to a streaking Zaitsev, who wristed it past Anthony Stolarz, 2–0 Blackhawks. Then, with seven minutes left in the first, Jason Dickinson got a pass over to Hall, who skated in and snuck the puck past Stolarz to make it 3–0 Chicago early in this one.
— NHL (@NHL) November 5, 2023
Compared to the first, it took the Blackhawks a while to put another into the net, but when they did, it was a beauty. Eetu Luostarinen had the puck bounce past him, and Connor Bedard made him pay. He burst up the ice, wristing the puck past Stolarz to make it 4–0 Blackhawks.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) November 5, 2023
A little over a minute later, the Blackhawks got a 2-on-1 that looked like they might put another on the board. Hall and Tyler Johnson came up the ice, with Hall putting the puck over a sliding defender to Johnson, but Stolarz came up with a tremendous save to prevent the goal. By the end of the second, the Panthers had eventually out-shot the Blackhawks, but Mrazek stood tall and stopped every Florida chance to this point.
Seven minutes into the third, Florida would strike for the first time. They went on the power play on a Bedard high stick, and were able to convert, with Oliver Ekman-Larsson putting a slap shot past Mrazek, making it 4–1 Blackhawks. With about 11:20 to go in the third, Aleksander Barkov put a back-hander off of the crossbar on a rebound opportunity that could have easily made it just a two-goal game. With seven and a half to go, Matthew Tkachuk cleaned up a rebound to put another Florida goal on the board, and make it a two-goal game for real. That was his 500th NHL point, giving him 500 in 520 games played. That would be all that they would get though, as Mrazek stopped the rest of the shots faced, and Kurashev would pot an empty-netter to seal it off in a 5–2 Blackhawks win.
The Blackhawks showed some resiliency in rebounding from such a bad game against Arizona to play lights out defensively in this game by comparison. They blocked 29 shots in the game, with even Bedard getting in on that action, and stood their ground overall. Zaitsev made the most of this 13 and a half minutes played, putting in his first of the year and totaling a +3 rating for the evening. When no one on your team was a negative in plus/minus, you are definitely doing something correct.
The Blackhawks’ next game is on Sunday evening against the New Jersey Devils at 6 p.m. CST. The game will be on NHL Network and NBC Sports Chicago.