Coach Joel Quenneville talked of how the Blackhawks had to respond once that Stanley Cup banner was lifted into the United Center rafters. They had to flip the switch immediately.
They didn’t, and first-period miscues ended up being costly.
Artemi Panarin scored his first career NHL goal and Teuvo Teravainen recorded his first of the season, but the Blackhawks fell to the New York Rangers 3-2 in the regular-season opener for both on Wednesday night.
The Blackhawks have had a few so-so games following banner-raising ceremonies, and this one was no different. Integrating new players and new pairings after a summer of change, the Blackhawks struggled out of the gate. The opportunistic Rangers pounced on Blackhawks miscues, taking a 3-1 lead after the first 20 minutes.
“The first period, we had a little delay in our switch, either with or without the puck, going to people rather slowly,” Quenneville said. “We got better as the game went on, did some good things, but we gave them a couple of goals late in the first that were definitely preventable.”
There were some bright spots, starting with Panarin. Despite playing just one preseason game after missing nearly two weeks with an upper-body injury, Panarin looked comfortable. He, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane showed the chemistry the three started forming in the preseason finale, with Kane setting up Panarin’s goal late in the first period.
“He’s a special player. He’s electric,” Kane said of Panarin. “He hangs onto the puck, makes good plays and it’s nice to see him get his first goal. I thought we had a pretty good first night.”
Quenneville said they call the Blackhawks’ newest forward, “the Bread Man.”
“He was fun to watch tonight,” Quenneville said of Panarin. “It looked like he had the puck all night and that line was effective and dangerous. So I think it was a good start for him.”
Teravainen, who played most of the preseason at center before moving to top-line left wing with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, cut the Rangers’ lead to 3-2 late in the second period.
“Today I think wasn’t our best game. We have to talk more and keep thinking positive,” Teravainen said of the line. “There were some good things, of course, but I think we can do a better job.”
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The Blackhawks thought they’d tied the game late in regulation when Kane stuffed the puck through Henrik Lundqvist’s pads. But it was called no goal on the ice — the official closest to the net told the NHL’s Situation Room that he was in the process of blowing the whistle when the puck was under Lundqvist’s pad. Upon further review, the no-goal call was upheld, citing Rule 78.5:
“Apparent goals shall be disallowed when the referee deems the play has been stopped, even if he had not physically had the opportunity to stop play by blowing his whistle.”
Asked of what he thought of the goal/non-goal call at the end, Quenneville said, “quick.”
Kane wasn’t that phased by it.
“I mean, it’s one of those plays that could go either way, whether the ref blows the whistle or not. It seemed like [the puck] was stuck under his pad,” Kane said. “It did seem like it was pretty quick but at the same time, refs are trying to protect the goalies and different things like that. Not going to complain about it. We had a chance to tie it up; it didn’t go our way.”
The Blackhawks started the night off celebrating another Cup victory. Whether it was the ceremony, the changes or just an off night, the Blackhawks didn’t get the desired game start.
“My patience is rather short as far as watching us give up leads or goals like that, that are all preventable by every single guy on the ice. But we’ll talk about it tomorrow,” Quenneville said of the sluggish start. “Let’s get excited. The [New York] Islanders are excited about starting in their building, so we have another tough test already.”