The Blackhawks were back on the ice Monday night against the Panthers after a lackluster performance in Saturday's loss. They needed to right the ship quickly as they had dropped four of their last six games.
Unfortunately, it was a not much better showing by the away team. The Blackhawks held a two-goal lead midway through the game, but allowed five straight goals leading to the 6-3 loss.
Line Juggling Pays Off Early
Jeremy Colliton decided to put David Kampf between Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat to start the game. The decision came after the Blackhawks were dominated in the face-off dot during Saturday's 4-2 loss. Kampf happens to have the best face-off win percentage on the team, winning 52.4% of his draws.
Just over ten minutes into the game, the decision paid off.
Kampf stripped former Blackhawk Anthony Duclair on the forecheck and immediately found Kane standing behind him. The Blackhawks superstar beat Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Hawks the early lead.
Kane now has 12 goals on the season while Kampf has recorded an assist in three straight games.
The penalty boxes were used often in the first twenty minutes. There was only 12 minutes of 5v5 play as the two teams combined for five penalties. However, it was the Panthers who took advantage on the man advantage. With two minutes remaining, the Panthers scored on a shot that pin-balled off two Blackhawks defenders and into the back of the net to tie the game at one.
Two Goals Apiece in the Second Period
The Panthers controlled majority of the play in the first half of the second period. The most the Blackhawks could do was chip the puck out of their zone, as the Panthers tilted the ice in their favor and were pressing.
That said, the Blackhawks started to push back. The Panthers' forecheck was extremely aggressive, sending multiple players deep in each corner, but the Blackhawks made them pay for their hyper-aggressiveness. Even though they weren't spending much time in the Panthers' end, the Blackhawks created multiple odd-man rushes thanks to good stretch passes by their defensemen.
Just before the halfway mark of the period, the Blackhawks finally capitalized on one of those aforementioned rushes.
Calvin de Haan took the puck in his own end as the Panthers changed and fed Mattias Janmark at the far blue line. Janmark drove to the left circle, drew two Panthers defenders with him, and dished the puck to Philipp Kurashev who buried the one-timer to give the Hawks a one-goal lead.
The goal was important for the team, and specifically Kurashev, who had a lone goal in his last 11 games.
Three minutes later, Brandon Hagel extended the Blackhawks' lead to two with his third goal of the season. The Hagel-Pius Suter-Dominik Kubalik line created a turnover and Duncan Keith put a shot on net that hit Hagel, who was parked in front of the net. Hagel buried the rebound off his body to extend the Hawks' lead to two.
The Blackhawks held the two-goal lead for a minute and 56 seconds. Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad scored on the power play to pull the Panthers within one, and former BlackHawk Gustav Forsling scored a minute later to tie the game, 3-3.
The Panthers could have easily taken the lead before the period ended if it weren't for Kevin Lankinen, who stopped 20 of the 23 shots he faced, including this incredible desperation glove save on Ekblad.
Blackhawks Power Play Comes Up Empty
The third period started even. Both teams had three shots on goal in the first five minutes. The Blackhawks went on their third power play of the game with nine minutes remaining in the tied game, but just like their first two attempts, they were unable to record a shot on goal.
A minute later the Blackhawks returned to the power play, but it was Panthers who broke the tie. Aleksander Barkov scored shorthanded to give his team a 4-3 lead. Florida tallied two more goals with the Blackhawks' net empty securing the Panthers win 6-3. The Blackhawks yet again find another way to lose a hockey game in this wild season.
The Blackhawks are now 14-11-5 and have lost five of their last seven games. They sit just four points ahead of the Blue Jackets in the final playoff spot in the Discover Central division.
What's On Tap Next?
The Blackhawks continue their road trip, but stay in Florida for a two-game series with the Lightning starting on Thursday at 6:00 PM CDT. The Blackhawks have lost three of four against the Lightning this season, with their last meeting being a heartbreaking 6-3 loss on March 7.