Recap: Panthers rally for 4-3 overtime win over Blackhawks

Montour the hero; Tkachuk sets up three in the third

Brandon Montour scored 2:43 into overtime to lift the Florida Panthers to a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at FLA Live Arena.

The Panthers got off to yet another sleepy start and Chicago burned them on two odd-man rushes in the first period.

Tyler Johnson sent Taylor Raddysh and Caleb Jones away on a 2-on-1 break and Raddysh hit Jones with a perfect pass that the defenseman snapped by Sergei Bobrovksy at the 6:49 mark.

After failing to scored on a 5-on-3 man-advantage, the Blackhawks completed a beautifully executed 3-on-2 at 17:53 that saw Jujhar Khaira cross to Joey Anderson, whose knifing pass into the slot got tapped home by Boris Katchouk, who scored the goal with only one hand on his stick.

Florida picked up their play a bit in the middle frame, but couldn’t get any of their 14 shots to go on veteran Petr Mrazek.

That wasn’t the case in the third, as the Cats scored thrice in a 4:13 span to turn a two-goal deficit into a one-goal lead.

Sam Bennett sent the puck behind the net and moved in front as Matthew Tkachuk and Eetu Lupostarinen worked it free from Jarred Tinordi. Doing his best Wayne Gretzky, Tkachuk then found Bennett, who slammed in a shot at 8:29. Eetu Luostarinen’s helper was his 20th of the season.

Florida would tie the game 29 seconds later with Philipp Kurashev off for interfence. After taking a pass from Montour, Tkachuk moved in from the right point and took a shot that Sam Reinhart redirected past Mrazek. Just the tip, baby! That’s Reinhart’s tenth power-play goal, tying him with Tkachuk for the team lead.

Tkachuk would take a short feed from Marc Staal at the left point after a Bennett faceoff win before finding Luostarinen in the high slot. Luostarinen whipped a shot top-shelf over Mrazek’s glove to put the Panthers on top at 12:42.

With Mrazek pulled for an extra attacker, Cole Guttman cashed in on a loose puck with 45 seconds left in regulation to send the game to the extra session. The Cats got a little unlucky here as Bennett blocked MacKenzie Entwistle’s shot from the left boards, but the puck ended up on the stick of Jason Dickinson down low and he shoveled in front to Khaira, whose backhand was stopped by a prone Bobrovsky before Guttman got it over the goal line.

After getting knocked down in the left corner, a gambling Montour got up and parked himself in front of the Chicago goal and the gamble paid off, as Carter Verhaeghe kept the Blackhawks from exiting the zone. Verhaeghe backhanded the puck over to Barkov and he chipped it down to Montour, who turned and smacked a shot under Mrazek to give the Cardiac Cats the much-needed bonus point. Jubilation!

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but that Panthers clawed their out of the trap with a huge third period effort and pulled within two points of the Pittsburgh Penguins and within four of the New York Islanders in the wild card race. The Cats have played two more games than Pittsburgh and they still have a game in hand on the Islanders. Losses by both teams today and win over Winnipeg tonight would really make things interesting. Let’s Go Panthers!

Bows & Arrows

  • In addition to setting up all three of Florida’s third period goals, Matthew Tkachuk registered a game-high seven shots. Tkachuk, who put up his ninth three-point game of the season, is sixth in the league in scoring with 84 points and tied for fourth in assists with 56.
  • Goalie stuff: Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 21 shots to collect his 21st win. Bobrovsky has started nine straight games and due to light workload could go again tonight against the Jets. Petr Mrazek was strafed with 43 shot and made 39 saves. Zach Andrews served as an EBUG for Chicago after Alex Stalock was ruled out with a non-COVID illness.
  • Aleksander Barkov’s primary assist on Brandon Montour’s game-winner was his 22nd overtime point, tying now Flame Jonathan Huberdeau for most in franchise history.
  • What shouldn’t be overlooked in the comeback was the perfect 6-for-6 performance by Florida’s penalty kill, which limited the Blackhawks power play to just three shots on goal.
  • Caleb Jones had gone 14 games without a goal before opening the scoring and Boris Katchouk ended a 17-game drought when he put Chicago up by two.
  • The teams spiit the season series by winning on home ice. Read more about it at Second City Hockey. /