Jonathan Marchessault notched a natural hat trick and James Reimer stopped 25 shots to power the Florida Panthers to their most impressive performance of the season, a 7-0 rout over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, the top team in the Western Conference.
The three-goal performance was the first of Marcheassault’s career and the shutout was Reimer’s first in a Panther uniform.
After a well-played, but scoreless first period, Aleksander Barkov took a nice feed from Jonathan Huberdeau and beat Corey Crawford with a wrist shot 17 seconds into the middle frame. The second assist on Barkov’s 21st went to Jason Demers.
Huberdeau gave the Cats a two-goal lead when he ripped Barkov’s cross between Crawford body and the post at the 10:21 mark with Florida enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage. Keith Yandle also picked up an assist on the pretty passing play.
Barkov and Hubderdeau combined to set up Marchessault’s one-timer tally 1:19 later. The goal came right after the Blackhawks returned to full strength.
Marchessault showed off his quick release a couple more times early in the third period, first chasing Crawford 4:59 into the stanza, with the lone assist going to Colton Sceviour, before pinning his third of the night on Scott Darling at 7:13, with the assists going to Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck.
Nick Bjugstad lit the lamp forty seconds later with a nifty little deflection of Scevior’s long shot from the point. Mark Pysyk picked up the secondary helper on Bjugstad’s sixth goal.
Reilly Smith completed the scoring when he slammed home Trocheck’s rebound with 9:15 left in regulation.
The Panthers remained seven points out in the race for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Bruins currently hold the slot after defeating the New York Islanders 2-1 in Brooklyn. Florida holds a game in hand on the Bruins and will begin a four-game road trip in Buffalo on Monday.
Bows & Arrows:
- The Panthers seven-goal margin of victory was their largest since beating Toronto 8-0 on February 5, 2008.
- Jonathan Marchessault’s hat trick pushed his team-leading goal total to 28. Marchessault also scored twice Florida’s 3-1 win over Arizona on Thursday.
- Jonathan Huberdeau’s four-point performance gave the crafty foward 21 points in 23 games this season.
- Corey Crawford stopped 21 shots before being pulled for Scott Darling. Darling finished with 3 saves on 6 shots.
- In addition to his third period goal, Nick Bjugstad led all skaters with a game-high six shots on net.
- Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and former Panther Brian Campbell all the finished the game with -4 ratings.
- Second City Hockey has the other side of Florida’s rout of Chicago, which spilt the season series.