After the Blackhawks surprising win against the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning, they sit eight points out of the last wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Going into this game, the Florida Panthers sit just four points out of the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. This was a must-win for Florida if they were to have any hope of making the postseason.
Jumping right into the scoring here, Brandon Saad thought he had a man open and lost the puck giving Mike Hoffman a breakaway chance. He made a deke with his stick, pulling Corey Crawford further out of the net than he should have been for the opening goal of the night just over four minutes into this game.
Several minutes later, MacKenzie Weegar was caught holding Brandon Saad giving the Blackhawks their first power play of the night. They failed to score here but generated several scoring chances.
Some time went by with both teams trading puck-possession and shots without any action. Then at the 12:54 mark, Jonathan Toews redirected a hard shot from the blue line putting it right past Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Less than a minute later, Jonathan Huberdeau was penalized for hooking Slater Koekkoek sending the Hawks to another penalty but they could not score on this advantage either.
With just under three minutes to play in the opening frame, Dominick Kubalik took a high-stick to the face as he was crashing the net sending Erik Haula to the penalty-box and the Hawks to their third power play of the period. They could not score on this advantage either and it really begged the question of "Can't you just decline the penalty?" The period ended with Huberdeau on a breakaway but time expired. The period ended tied at one goal apiece.
We went over six minutes into the second period with no scoring until the captain took matters into his own hands by stealing the puck in the offensive zone. He passed to the point where Connor Murphy blasted one that Drake Caggiula tipped right into the goal for the lead! Hawks are now in front by a score of 2-1.
A few minutes later, the Blackhawks became shorthanded when Olli Maatta interfered with Hoffman. They didn't score here but as the penalty expired, Duncan Keith was sent to the box for tripping. The Panthers didn't score on this power play thanks to a stellar penalty-kill by the Hawks.
The period ended with both teams trading chances, the score remaining 2-1 in favor of Chicago, and the Hawks out-shooting the Panthers 24-19.
The third period opened with Kirby Dach taking a high-sticking penalty just over a minute into it. This Panthers power play was solid with plenty of chances. Crawford was incredible in this situation and stopped everything in his path.
The majority of the third period was filled with sloppy play and a lot of give-and-go hockey. Steals, pokes, and inability to advance into the offensive zone became a tiresome affair to watch by fifteen minutes into it.
With only 1:28 left in regulation, Olli Maatta got over-confident and let Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson jump up into the offensive play. A 2-on-1 rush ensued, he faked a pass and shot a wrist shot that went right past Crawford tying the game at two. This game is headed to overtime.
The overtime period was filled with amazing scoring chances on both sides, per usual for 3-on-3 hockey. Both goalies put on a showcase of goaltending efficiency and this game is now going to the shootout.
The Blackhawks' first shooter was Jonathan Toews, as usual, and he went very quickly at Bobrovsky and scored! He becomes the first player in NHL history to record 50 shootout goals.
The Blackhawks second shooter was, of course, Patrick Kane. He did his typical slowing as he got close up and put the puck right under the pad of Bobrovsky.
Corey Crawford stopped both of Florida's first two shooters giving the Hawks the victory 3-2 and the much needed second point in the standings. Corey Crawford was definitely the player of the game stopping 38 of 40 shots on goal for a .950 save percentage.
This is now their second win in a row, giving them a glimmer of hope towards the playoffs. The Blackhawks take on the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday back home at the United Center.