10 Observations: Connor Bedard, Blackhawks bounce back with win over Panthers originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Chicago Blackhawks bounced back with a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday at the United Center.
Here are 10 observations on the win:
1. This was the Blackhawks’ first game in five days. They had to sit with that ugly 8-1 loss to Arizona all week. Connor Bedard said before the game that he still had a “bad taste” in his mouth from it. The Blackhawks responded, just as they did when head coach Luke Richardson called his team out after the game in Boston. Her legs looked fresh.
2. The Blackhawks scored three first-period goals, scored by Nick Foligno (on the power play), Nikita Zaitsev and Taylor Hall, who returned to the lineup after missing the past two weeks with a left shoulder injury. They scored the three goals before Florida even recorded three shots on goal. It was a pretty dominant opening frame from the home team.
3. The Blackhawks continued to gain momentum in the second period when Bedard scored his fifth goal of the season. Tyler Johnson almost made it 5-0, but he failed on the doorstep. The result could have looked even more lopsided than it already was, although I probably shouldn’t say that because the Panthers were the better team in midfield and were close in the third frame.
4. Petr Mrazek was hardly put to the test in the first third. The same cannot be said in the second half, where Florida led in shots (19-7) and scoring chances (20-5), according to Natural Stat Trick. Mrazek came up big, stopping the first 30 shots before allowing his first goal of the game.
5. Corey Perry got into trouble with Panthers goaltender Anthony Stolarz early in the first period, and it looked like he was rightfully headed for elimination. Perry also ran past him after the scrum ended and appeared to challenge him. What triggered Perry was the Stolarz slash. If Perry had worn an opponent’s sweater, he would have been booed so loudly. But instead he wore a Blackhawks jersey and received huge cheers. What a time.
6. Lukas Reichel scored his first point of the season after picking up a second assist on Zaitsev’s goal. This was his first game on the wing this season. He looked confident and you could see it in the first period when he took down Dmitry Kulikov and created a scoring opportunity. He just played more freely.
7. The Blackhawks unveiled a bronze seat in Section 119 commemorating late Chairman Rocky Wirtz. Fans and community members can nominate themselves or someone they believe deserves the honor of sitting on the court during a game this season. Details here.
8th. Wyatt Kaiser was the first Blackhawks player to wear a neck brace since the tragic incident with Adam Johnson. He said before the game that he had worn one throughout high school and at the World Juniors, so it wasn’t anything new for him. Nice to see, and I hope/imagine others follow suit in the future.
9. Kevin Korchinski played his tenth NHL game of the season, meaning his entry-level contract has officially taken effect. The same goes for Bedard. I would be surprised if Korchinski returned to the WHL at this point. Richardson said there was also no discussion about sending him to the World Juniors. I think he’s here to stay.
10. Alex Vlasic remains in the concussion protocol and did not play, although he practiced fully with the team on Friday and participated in the Saturday morning skate. He has “one more” hurdle to overcome and it’s possible he’ll play against New Jersey on Sunday. Encouraging news.