Bedard scores in 3rd straight game, Blackhawks defeat Panthers
Hall gets 1st with Chicago in return from injury, Mrazek makes 38 saves
“Yeah, huge bounce-back game for us, especially the first period,” Mrazek said. “We showed how can we play and what things we can do, so we put a lot of work in this week in practice and it paid off.”
After being outshot 14-6 in the first, Florida had a 19-7 advantage in the second period and 15-3 in the third.
“We had a tough first [period],” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “We’ll play 246 periods. Hoping that was our worst. Give them credit. They skated hard. They had a tough game (at Arizona). I think he (coach Luke Richardson) had them focused. That’s probably as dominant a two periods after that as we’ve had. After the first period, there’s nothing left for us to do but find a way out of it, not so much make amends.
“We had enough energy tonight. We just didn’t get the memo on the start time. I got the time wrong.”
Nick Foligno gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead on the power play at 6:25 of the first period. Seth Jones’ shot from the blue line hit Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling, and the puck went to Foligno in the slot, where he scored with a wrist shot.
With the teams at 4-on-4, Nikita Zaitsev made it 2-0 at 9:21 when he scored in the slot off a pass from Kurashev. It was Zaitsev’s first goal of the season.
Hall pushed it to 3-0 at 12:39. He took a cross-ice pass from Jason Dickinson, skated in on Stolarz and put the puck between the goalie’s pads. Hall, who was acquired in a trade with the Boston Bruins on June 26, missed the previous three games with a shoulder injury.
Bedard extended the lead to 4-0 at 5:29 of the second period with his fifth goal of the season. He picked up the puck in the neutral zone following a Florida turnover, skated down the left side and sent a shot past the glove of Stolarz.
Bedard had two shots on goal in 16:19 of ice time. The 18-year-old rookie center blocked a shot by Forsling late in the second period and went to the bench wincing but returned to the ice.
“I think he was in that awkward spot, like 10 feet away, where it’s going to hurt a little more,” Richardson said. “But you know what? Did all the right things, stayed in the lane. That really lifted our bench. Like to see a young guy do that. Just kind of solidified a solid game by him.”
Ekman-Larsson cut it to 4-1 on a power play at 6:33 of the third period, scoring on a wrist shot from just inside the blue line.
Tkachuk brought Florida to within 4-2 at 12:29, poking in the rebound of a shot by Carter Verhaeghe. It was Tkachuk’s 500th NHL point (194 goals, 306 assists).
“It doesn’t mean much today, to be quite honest,” he said. “I’ve played with a lot of great players, so I’m lucky. They took it to us right away. When you give up three goals and then a fourth, it’s too hard to come back from. But we were close and had some chances. When you’re behind 3- or 4-0, you’re putting yourself in a terrible spot.”
Kurashev scored into an empty net at 19:50 for the 5-2 final.
“Definitely our first period was great,” Kurashev said. “Second, they kind of took the momentum, but Petr played an amazing game, and he kept us in it. We tried our best to weather the storm and we did a good job.”
NOTES: Bedard (18 years, 110 days) became the youngest player in Blackhawks history with a three-game goal streak, breaking the record held by Jeremy Roenick (19 years, 31 days on Feb. 17, 1989). … Defenseman Jarred Tinordi had nine of Chicago’s 29 blocked shots. …The Panthers had a four-game point streak end (3-0-1).