Hawks special teams shine in win against Panthers

The Blackhawks were dominant in a 6-2 win against the Florida Panthers, scoring 3 of their 5 goals on the power play and staying perfect on the penalty kill.  The win was tainted by an injury to starting netminder Corey Crawford, who lasted only 13:45 in the first period before being replaced by Antti Rannta.  Raanta was solid, making 28 saves and allowing only two goals.

The Hawks came out jumping in the first, and needed only 70 seconds to take the lead.  After a bad penalty by former Hawk Tomas Kopecky for high-sticking Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Sharp blasted a high shot from the point on the ensuing power play past goalie Scott Clemmensen, who was screened on the play by Andrew Shaw.

The Hawks struck again on the power play just over eight minutes later, as Jonathan Huberdeau went to the box for a double minor penalty for high-sticking Michael Roszival.  Brent Seabrook scored at 9:11 of the first after a beautiful cross-ice pass from Brandon Saad over the glove of Clemmensen.

Just a few minutes later, things went sour for Chicago as Crawford injured himself, as he appeared to make a save with his right pad and then tried to push off the same leg before going down on the ice and not moving.  He was helped off the ice by a trainer and did not return for the rest of the game.

The Hawks looked to continue their dominance early in the second as Marian Hossa picked up a big rebound off of a Sharp shot and muscled it behind Clemmensen, giving Chicago a 3-0 league just 37 seconds into the period. 

The Panthers looked to make a comeback, bringing the game to within a goal with two goals scored just over five minutes apart.  Former Blackhawk Dylan Olsen would score his second goal of the season soon after Hossa's goal at 4:05 in the second.  The Panther's second goal came off of a mishandle by Raanta, who looked to clear the puck but instead turned it over to Marcel Goc, who wristed the puck over Raanta's blocker.

That would be Florida's last goal, as the Hawks cleaned up their sloppy play and put the game farther out of Florida's reach with under three minutes to go in the second. At 17:26 in the second, Michal Handzus drove to the net and managed to shove a puck past Clemmenson to put the Hawks up by two goals going into the second intermission.

Entering the third, the Hawks took advantage of yet another power play, as recently returned Shaw tipped in a Sharp shot at 2:07 of the third.  Patrick Kane also assisted on the play, his third assist of the night.

Though Chicago was stellar on the PP, they also remained perfect on a much maligned penalty kill, stopping all five Florida power play opportunities.  The Panthers are 28th in the league on the power play, but could not convert on any of their chances.

With ten minutes left in the third, the United Center would get to its feet after Krystofer Barch leveled Marcus Kruger, and Brandon Bollig took exception.  Bollig and Barch traded punches, but it was Bollig who ultimately brought down Barch in the only fight of the game.

Brandon Saad put the game away with just under a minute to go, receiving a breakaway stretch pass from Jeremy Morin.  He gave a couple shoulder fakes and shoveled the puck between Clemmensen's five-hole, putting the game away for good with the Hawks sixth goal of the night at 19:04 of the third.

Clemmensen, who played tonight for his first time in a month after starter Tim Thomas began the last 14 games, would finish the night with 26 saves on 32 shots.

3 Stars:

1. Patrick Sharp: 1 G, 2 A, 6 SOG, 14:53 TOI

2. Patrick Kane: 0 G, 3 A, + 1, 20:29 TOI

3. Brent Seabrook: 1 G, 1 A, 2 PIM, 17:06 TOI

Quick Hits:

- With his three assists in tonight's game, Kane jumped into second place overall in the NHL scoring race, with 37 points (16 G, 21 A).  He remains tied with Evgeni Malkin, also with 37 points, and both sit behind Sidney Crosby, who leads with 42.

- Captain Jonathan Toews got on the scoresheet for just his second time in Chicago's last 6 games against Florida, but his two assists tonight put him just one point away from 400 career regular season points, all with the Blackhawks.

The Hawks next game sends them to Dallas to face off against the Stars on Tuesday night.  Game starts at 7:30 CT.

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