How it happened: It was a quiet start to the game, though the Hawks had the puck often in the Panthers’ zone but weren’t managing many shots on goal. Late in the first period they exploded scoring twice within two minutes as Jonathan Toews tallied his 27th goal of the year after a pretty pass from Patrick Kane to set him up with a mini break-away. Then on the power play Duncan Keith found a lane and scored his first goal since November 13 and just his third of the season. Kane added a tally in the second period during a 2-on-1 sequence with Viktor Stalberg, keeping the puck himself for the score. Ray Emery wasn’t tested very much but failed to record the Hawks first shutout of the year when Jason Garrison scored from the point early in the third period on a Panthers’ power play.
What it means: It’s a solid win in which Joel Quenneville was able to roll his lines and defensive pairs saving some energy for Saturday’s divisional match-up with Nashville. Stalberg, Kane and Toews continue to dominate opponents when they have the puck, especially in the offensive zone or off the rush. Kane had his best game in some time, taking the puck to the net and being responsible in his own zone. And of course is passing was as good as ever. Defensively, it was a solid effort with few if any breakdowns. The Hawks again retook the lead in the division and conference improving to 29-13-6.
Late start: The game was delayed a half hour due to the inclement weather. The Panthers’ bus arrived at the United Center at 6:45 pm. Several Hawks arrived later than usual as well.
What’s next: The Hawks are scheduled to fly to Nashville right after the game for a Saturday night contest against the Predators.