CHICAGO – The Blackhawks scored a goal for every day they had off following the 8-1 beating from Arizona on Monday–and one for good measure. Make no mistake–there wouldn’t be that performance again in front of the home crowd.
Connor Bedard scored his third goal in as many games and the Blackhawks buried three goals in the first to knock off the Florida Panthers Saturday night. Bedard ha now scored four times in his last five games, and barring the disallowed goal against Boston, he’d be on a five-game heater.
Foligno started the scoring when he blasted home a loose puck that hopped to him in the slot. Who did the puck hop off of? None other than former Blackhawks defenseman Gustav Forsling, who looked to the heavens following the goal. The second goal came from Nikita Zaitsev, who found wide open in the slot on a pretty feed from Philipp Kurashev in the corner, giving the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead early in the first. It also netted Lukas Reichel his first point of the season on an assist.
Chicago wasn’t done as Taylor Hall made his return to the lineup with his first goal of the season, giving the Blackhawks a 3-0 advantage with 7:21 left in the first period.
Then it was Bedard’s turn. Corralling a loose puck in his own zone, Bedard raced in alone and ripped a shot past Stolarz as the United Center roared, making it 4-0.
Florida finally scored on the power play with 13:27 left, taking advantage of a failed clear and added another on Matthew Tkachuk’s second of the season, pulling it to 4-2. Kurashev would pot the empty netter to put away the Panthers–and their comeback bid, giving Chicago the 5-2 win.
Petr Mrazek Strong Again for the Blackhawks
It can’t be stated enough that Petr Mrazek has been dynamite in net since the onset of the season, and his streak of great work continued Saturday night.
Florida stepped up its attack in the second period, especially in the latter half of the frame. By the end, the Panthers outshot the Blackhawks 19-7. But they exited the period with the same amount of goals they had when it started: none .
Whether it was a quick snag with the glove or a deft save with the blocker, Mrazek was there for another steady save. Though Florida would break through for a pair, Mrazek still ended with 38 saves.
On a night where the Blackhawks desperately needed to ensure Monday remained an anomaly, the Hawks made their statement on both ends of the ice.