Blackhawks tame Panthers, win 3-1

Two late goals in the first period was all the Blackhawks needed to beat the Panthers Friday night.

Despite the biggest snow storm of the winter in the city of Chicago which saw the puck drop delayed 30 minutes, 21,555 were in attendance at the United Center to see the Blackhawks victory.

Ray Emery got the start in net and looked spectacular throughout. His play at the Blackhawks defensive end of the ice ultimately led to the Hawks first goal.

After Emery denied Stephen Weiss on the doorstep multiple times, the puck was sent out to the corner where Viktor Stalberg corralled it and sent it cross-ice to Patrick Kane, who then sent a laser of a pass to the Captain Jonathan Toews sending him on a breakaway on Panthers goalie Jose Theodore. Toews sent a beautiful backhand past Theodore's stick side to open the scoring.

A couple minutes later, Andrew Shaw was boarded by Keaton Ellerby, sending the Hawks to the Power Play. Marian Hossa got the puck from Nick Leddy down low and immediately sent it cross ice to Duncan Keith. Keith sent a laser of a slap shot past Theodore, putting the Hawks up 2-0 with 17 ticks left in the first period. A great screen in front by Andrew Brunette left Theodore no chance to make the save.

The second period saw only one goal, but it was a big one by a key player. A great defensive play once again led to an odd man rush the other way for the Blackhawks. This time, it was Kane and Stalberg on a 2-on-1. Kane decided to hold on to it and sent a beauty of a snipe through Theodore's five-hole, giving the Hawks the 3-0 lead.

It was Kane's first goal since the January 5th game in Philadelphia.

There was a bit of a scare once again for the Hawks, as it looked as if Jonathan Toews hurt his left arm after taking a slash off the stick of Erik Gudbranson. Toews, however, only missed a shift or two and returned to the ice just fine.

The third period saw the Panthers try to inch their way closer. Toews was called for a trip in the opening moments of the 3rd and the Panthers immediately capitalized.

The puck found the stick of Jason Garrison who sent a laser past a screen Ray Emery, making it a 3-1 game just 43 seconds into the period.

That was as close as the Panthers would ever get, as the Blackhawks played stout defense for 60 minutes and sustained good pressure in the offensive zone all night.

Emery stopped 18 of 19 shots, earning his 11th victory of the season. Toews' goal was his 27th of the season, keeping him in 2nd in the entire NHL behind Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos. The team improves to 28-13-6 on the season, good for 64 points, putting them back on top of the Western Conference, one point clear of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Blackhawks next game will come Saturday night as they take on division rival Nashville in Tennessee at 7 PM CT.

 

Three Stars:

#3 Duncan Keith

#2 Jonathan Toews

#1 Patrick Kane

 

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