The Blackhawks trailed by two goals on two separate occasions and all signs pointed to their road losing streak reaching nine games. Not so fast.
After falling behind 4-2, Alexandre Fortin scored a shorthanded goal at the 9:52 mark of the third period to pull the Blackhawks within a goal and Alex DeBrincat scored with 0.8 seconds left in regulation to tie it up at 4-4. It was the second time Brandon Saad fed a beautiful backhand pass to a Blackhawk that led to a goal.
In overtime, Erik Gustafsson capped off the comeback by snapping home a shot past a screened James Reimer to send the Blackhawks back to Chicago with a win to wrap up their three-game road trip.
Fridays game ended a 2-4-0 Panthers trip that was a disaster for reasons that go beyond the four losses. The Panthers on Monday also lost second-line center Vincent Trocheck, an All-Star in 2017, to a broken ankle. He is expected to miss at least a couple of months and possibly the rest of the season.
The Blackhawks had 31 shot attempts compared to Floridas 10 in the final frame and also generated 18 scoring chances to Floridas four, according to naturalstattrick.com. They threw the kitchen sink at the Panthers, who bent for 19:59 and broke in the final second.
Goaltending has not been an issue for the Blackhawks this season. Corey Crawford and Ward have given their team a chance to win every night, despite what their save percentages may look like.
Ward deserves as much credit for this win as anyone. The Blackhawks have up 34 shots, 22 scoring chances at even strength and 15 high-danger chances over the first 40 minutes yet Ward kept his team in it by making big stop after big stop. He particularly made several key saves early in the second period that prevented the Panthers from piling on to their 2-0 lead, which wouldve changed the complexion of the game.
But Barky is an elite athlete. Hes in great condition. I think he will be fine (against Chicago). But when you are missing someone like (Trocheck), you have to double up someones minutes.
Blackhawks at Panthers preview
Instead, the Blackhawks rewarded him for his efforts and Ward earned his first win since Oct. 13 by stopping 34 of 38 shots (.895 save percentage).
For the third straight game, the Blackhawks went down 2-0 in the first period and found themselves chasing the game.
After recording three of the first four shots in the opening minutes, the Blackhawks were outshot 15-6 the rest of the frame and saw two of them go in. Mike Hoffman, who had his 17-game point streak snapped on Friday, scored on the power play to put the Panthers up 1-0 at the 5:48 mark and Jared McCann made it 2-0 at 13:40.
The Blackhawks also gave up five high-danger scoring chances at even strength in the first period and failed to generate any of their own.
The good news is, they didnt allow a goal within the first minute, which they had done in the previous two contests. Thats progress, right?
“I dont think [scoring has] been the problem for us this year, but we cant be allowing five or six a game. Its happened too many times. Weve got to take ownership on that as ourselves, as a group in this room, and learn from it. … Its unacceptable.” — Panthers forward Mike Hoffman
Entering Saturday, the Panthers had given up the second-most goals in the second period this season with 30. This was a chance for the Blackhawks to take advantage and they did just that.
David Kampf scored 49 seconds into the period because of a terrific individual effort and Patrick Kane evened it up at 2-2 just 4:45 later with a beautiful re-direction to end a seven-game goal drought. It was a nice quick response by the Blackhawks, who pushed back before giving up goals to Aaron Ekblad at 8:08 and Frank Vatrano at 11:30 that made it 4-2.
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Neither team had a morning skate. … The Panthers recalled Hutchinson from Springfield of the American Hockey League to back up Reimer. … Jokiharju was a healthy scratch for the first time in his rookie season against Tampa Bay.
Erik Gustafsson scored 2:32 into overtime to lift the Blackhawks to a 5-4 win over the Panthers to snap an eight-game road losing streak Saturday at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.
It is the Blackhawks first road win since Oct. 20, when they beat the Blue Jackets 4-1 in Columbus.
David Kampf and Patrick Kane each had a goal and an assist, while Brandon Saad and Gustav Forsling each had two helpers. Rookie Alexandre Fortin also scored and Cam Ward made 34 saves in net to improve to 4-2-4 this season.
The Blackhawks opened the game with pressure early, despite going down two goals to start the game. Ward kept the team in it, while Kampf cut the lead in half just under a minute into the second period.