RECAP: Blackhawks Fall to Panthers at Home, End Three-Game Win Streak


The Blackhawks entered the United Center Sunday evening on a three-game win streak, and looked to continue that streak against the Florida Panthers before the NHL Christmas break.

After three quality wins against divisional opponents, the Blackhawks were going for their fourth straight win on Sunday against the Panthers. Chris Kunitz made his first appearance in the Blackhawks lineup after numerous games as a healthy scratch. Young forward Jacob Nilsson also made his NHL debut after being recalled from Rockford on Saturday. The lineup was as follows:


Anisimov – Strome – Kane


KunitzNilsson – Perlini





First Period:

The first period began well for the home team on Sunday night. Cam Ward looked strong in his own net after a few goal posts headlined the only quality chances for the Panthers early on. The Blackhawks’ forecheck looked good early as well, generating numerous chances on James Reimer.

Notable “almost” chances included a Brendan Perlini shot right outside the blue paint, that Reimer barely caught a piece of to send it over the top of the net, and two consecutive posts from the Panthers prior to their powerplay mid-way through the first period.

With about 6:40 remaining in the first, Brendan Perlini found Dylan Strome down low behind the Panthers’ net. Strome sat and set up, scanning the ice before sending a pass to his left, finding Connor Murphy. Murphy put the puck top shelf and gave the Blackhawks the late period lead.

As time was ticking down on the first period, with under four minutes remaining, the Blackhawks looked like their old selves this season. After a bad turnover by the Blackhawks in which Carl Dahlstrom blew a tire, Cam Ward tried to clear after leaving his net and the puck ended up on Jayce Hawryluk’s stick with a wide-open net, tying the game, 1-1.

Second Period:

With less than three minutes gone to begin the period, the Blackhawks would get another dose of Jayce Hawryluk. The young forward had a breakaway from the blue line in after an incredible stretch pass from defenseman Michael Matheson. Hawryluk put a great shot past Cam Ward to give the visitors the 2-1 lead early in the middle frame.

Less than two minutes after the Panthers took the lead, the Blackhawks looked to capitalize on the power play and even up the game. After only about 15 seconds gone on the man advantage, Alex DeBrincat sent a pass to the slot looking for Dylan Strome. The puck glanced off of Strome’s foot, hit the post, and bounced back into the blue paint toward an oncoming DeBrincat. “The Cat” tapped home the rebound for his 17th of the season and tied the game at 2-2.

There were a few good chances throughout the “meat” of the period, but neither team could break the tie. With under four minutes remaining, the Panthers headed to the power play after a Duncan Keith cross check. On the power play, big offseason addition Mike Hoffman scored from the right wing face-off dot to give the Panthers the 3-2 lead late in the period. However, the action wouldn’t stop there…

Less than a minute later, what looked like a harmless Mackenzie Weegar shot, ended up taking a difficult bounce off of Cam Ward and right onto the stick of Jared McCann. The young center would further extend the Panthers lead, 4-2, as the contest went into the second intermission.

Third Period:

The third frame started in very similar fashion to how the second frame ended. After a defensive zone turnover by Jonathan Toews, Jared McCann found an open Denis Malgin for the Panthers’ fifth tally of the game. The Blackhawks looked like the team they were prior to their three-game winning streak, turning over pucks, taking stupid penalties and ultimately, just not playing good hockey.

In a valiant attempt at a comeback, the Blackhawks added their third goal at roughly the mid-way point of the third period. After Connor Murphy carried the puck into the offensive zone, he found Patrick Kane on the right wing boards. With perfect precision, Kane found Dylan Strome backdoor for the tap-in goal to cut the Florida lead to two. It was Dylan Strome’s third point of the game.

Despite some quality looks for the Blackhawks, they could not crack James Reimer for the remainder of the period. Frank Vatrano added the empty net goal to give the Panthers the 6-3 lead and, by that score, the game was over. Florida wins 6-3 at the United Center.

Quick Hits:

  • Dylan Strome had himself a game. After only one goal in his last five games, the young centerman scored one goal and added two assists. Strome now has nine points (six goals, three assists) since joining the Blackhawks after the Nick Schmaltz trade. It’s safe to say the change of scenery and quality opportunity to play in the top six has helped the former third-overall pick regain some confidence and play his game.
  • Cam Ward did not look like the same goaltender we saw against Nashville and Dallas. He looked tired, wasn’t playing with confidence, and let in some goals that should not have gone in. It’s safe to say that both Hawryluk tallies were very preventable, which could have given the Blackhawks a chance to extend their win streak to four games.
  • Many fans may be calling for Collin Delia to have a shot and play more games now after the NHL returns from Christmas break. Delia looked great against the Avalanche on Friday night and, at this point in the season, what do the Blackhawks have to lose by giving Delia a quality look in Corey Crawford’s absence?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! The Blackhawks will be back in action on Thursday, December 27th at home against the Minnesota Wild. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30pm CST.


Center Ice Forums RECAP: Blackhawks Fall to Panthers at Home, End Three-Game Win Streak

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    Ron Luce

    The Blackhawks entered the United Center Sunday evening on a three-game win streak, and looked to continue that streak against the Florida Panthers be
    [To continue reading full article, click here: RECAP: Blackhawks Fall to Panthers at Home, End Three-Game Win Streak]

    Mister Ricochet

    Indeed, looking forward to Delia getting an extended chance.  A couple solid efforts on top of the great game in the win over Rado could see the kid as the #1 for awhile.

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