After a long break between games and the loss of Duncan Keith for the next month, the Blackhawks came into Thursday night’s game against the Florida Panthers hoping to emerge with two points in the standings.
That goal was achieved as two of Chicago’s superstars, Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook, had three points each as the Hawks took advantage of a Panthers parade to the penalty box to take the 3-2 decision in regulation.
Artem Anisimov stayed hot, scoring for the second consecutive game to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead early in the first. Unfortunately, that lead lasted only 34 seconds as Vincent Trocheck was able to beat Corey Crawford on the other end of the ice.
Seabrook scored a power play goal at 3:51 into the second period, the only tally of the middle frame, as Kane and Artemi Panarin picked up the assists. The two sides combined for only 14 shots in a penalty-plagued period that saw the Panthers send five players to the box and Marcus Kruger stopped by the sin bin on behalf of Chicago.
With Trocheck finishing a penalty as the third period began, Seabrook found Kane on a breakaway and he devastated Roberto Luongo.
Corey Crawford picked up the second assist on Kane’s goal, adding to a strong performance for Chicago’s netminder. He allowed a goal to Jaromir Jagr with both Kruger and Niklas Hjalmarsson in the penalty box in the middle of the third period, but he was strong throughout the game. Crawford made 16 saves against just 18 shots to earn the victory.
When the dust settled, the Hawks had scored on two of seven power plays on the night. Florida converted one of their four advantages in the loss.
Jonathan Toews led the Hawks with two blocked shots while winning 18 of 30 faceoffs. He was also credited with one hit and one takeaway in another strong performance.
Obviously special teams played a significant role in the ice time distribution, and Chicago coach Joel Quenneville predictably relied heavily on his top players in the first game without Keith. Still, Quenneville was able to distribute the ice time fairly evenly among his top forwards in spite of the special teams play.
Kane (22:46), Toews (21:33) and Anisimov (20:06) were the only forwards to skate more than 20 minutes in the game; Ryan Garbutt, who led the Hawks with four hits, skated only 8:21 and Vince Hinostroza was on the ice for just 7:42 in the win.
Viktor Tikhonov started the night on the top line with Toews and Marian Hossa, but was limited to 10:44 on Thursday night. He looked good in the limited action he was able to get with Toews and Hossa, picking up two hits and winning a few board battles behind the Florida net.
On the blue line, Seabrook skated 26 minutes to lead all Chicago skaters. Niklas Hjalmarsson saw 20:15 of action (with two minutes in the penalty box) and Trevor van Riemsdyk played an impressive 22:34 on the night. TvR was credited with three shots on net, one blocked shot and one takeaway and showed a willingness to join the rush at times while skating with Hjalmarsson.
David Rundblad returned to the lineup and was on the ice for an underwhelming 14:43. Rundblad did get on the ice for 3:43 of power play time, but managed only one shot on net.
Bryan Bickell was a healthy scratch.
The Hawks host Tampa in a Stanley Cup Final rematch on Saturday night at the United Center.