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Panthers hang tens in 4-2 win over Blackhawks

Barkov’s three-point night powers Cats in home ice return

Chicago Blackhawks v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Aleksander Barkov, Carter Verhaeghe and Frank Vatrano each scored their tenth goal of the season in the second period, and the Florida Panthers won for the fifth time its past six games by posting a 4-2 decision over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.

Barkov, who also added an assist, would turn it up to 11 midway through the third, with the assists going to Verhaeghe and Anthony Duclair, who had two helpers in his first game in two weeks. After taking a rather innocent looking cross from Verhaeghe, Duclair spotted Barkov open down low and hit him with a perfect pass.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 30 of 32 shots in improving to 11-2-2. Bobrovsky is a notoriously slow starter, but he now looks totally locked in after posting a 6-0-1 record and .921 save percentage in his last seven starts. Chris who? Just kidding, however, it is nice to see the $10 million man seize control of the net.

Brandon Hagel and Adam Boqvist scored, and Kevin Lankinen made 31 saves for the Blackhawks, who have lost three of their past four games. Hagel opened the scoring 28 seconds into the middle frame, finishing off a nice 2-on-1 break with Dominik Kubalik, and Boqvist got the game’s final tally with 1:32 left in regulation off a one-timer.

The ever-resilient Panthers answered Boqvist’s opening salvo with three even-strength goals spread over a brief 4:33 span.

After MacKenzine Weegar helped hold the puck in the Chicago end, Barkov worked a give and go with Duclair and ended up pounding in his own rebound to tie things up at the 7:46 mark.

Verhaeghe smacked a rebound in from long range after Lankinen denied an onrushing Weegar.

Vatrano got his tenth 1:19 later when Radko Gudas dumped the puck behind the net and Owen Tippett centered out in front for The Tank to fire home. Hats off to Eetu Luostarinen for some fine scrumming along the boards, which allowed Vatrano to get the puck back to Gudas at the point.

The Panthers overcame a slow start and one-goal deficit, Chicago was outshooting the Cats 16-8 before Barkov muscled in to tie it, to improve to 18-5-4 on the season and 8-3-3 at BB&T Center. Florida’s 40 points through 27 games matches the franchise record for fewest games to collect 40 points (other time this happened was in 1996-97). Barkov was a complete monster for the Panthers, recording three points; a team-high five shots; a plus-three rating; and he also 19 of his 25 faceoffs. This was the Cats first win in their fancy new Reverse Retro sweaters, ending a brief “curse.” The two teams will take today off before meeting again on Monday.

Bows & Arrows

  • Aleksander Barkov played in his 506th NHL game, tying Bill Lindsay for ninth-most games played in franchise history.
  • All ten of Carter Verhaeghe and Frank Vatrano goals have come at even strength. Verhaeghe extending his point streak to three games and Vatrano scored a goal for the second consecutive game.
  • Speaking of streaks, MacKenzie Weegar extended his point streak to four games and rookie Owen Tippett extended his to three games. Radko Gudas posted an assist for the second consecutive game and led the Cats with six hits.
  • Patrick Kane, who was robbed by Bob in the first period, registered a game-high six shots, but could not end what is now a six-game goalless streak. Kane did pick up an assist, as did David Kampf and Duncan Keith.
  • Florida out-shot (37-32) and out-hit (17-15) Chicago, won 66% (47-71) of their faceoffs and killed off all four of the Blackhawks power play opportunities.
  • For more on the Cats third straight victory over Chicago this season, visit Second City Hockey, where, judging by the early headline, they look a bit rattled this morning.

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