Panik nets hat trick in Blackhawks’ victory

Panik nets hat trick in Blackhawks’ victory

Last fall, Richard Panik was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ minor league team. This fall he started on the Blackhawks’ top line.

On Saturday he recorded his first career hat trick.

Panik scored three, including the game-winner, and Scott Darling stopped 33 of 36 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 on Saturday night. The Blackhawks picked up their first victory of the season and Panik recorded his first hat trick in – well, he’s not sure exactly when but it’s been a while.

“I don’t even remember,” Panik said with a smile. “Maybe in juniors. Yeah, maybe juniors.”

Nick Schmaltz scored the first goal of his NHL career and Brent Seabrook added a power-play goal. This one got closer than the Blackhawks would’ve liked, especially after they had a 3-0 lead midway through the game, but they’ll take the two points.

“I didn’t like how we let them get back in the game. Even at 3-0, they had their turn to get something earlier than that and then chipped away,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Definitely a big play at the end. Nice play by Kaner.”

That play by Patrick Kane led to Panik’s third goal with 1:31 remaining in regulation. Darling was pivotal throughout and kept the Predators from finding the equalizer late.

“Yeah, I felt pretty good today,” Darling said. “Obviously some things I need to work on, it wasn’t all perfect. But nice to get the first one out of the way, get the jitters out and get a win.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]​

The Blackhawks, overall, still had their jittery moments. They allowed another power-play goal – that’s seven through three games. As pointed out earlier, a seemingly comfortable lead nearly disappeared twice; Craig Smith’s power-play goal made it 3-2 late in the second period and Viktor Arvidsson’s goal pulled the Predators to within one again, 4-3, midway through the third.

As for Panik, he got his goals the way Quenneville always preaches: by getting to the net. His first was a behind-the-back backhand that gave the Blackhawks that 3-0 lead midway through the first period. His second was his finishing a Marian Hossa drive. At first it looked like it was Hossa, who would’ve had his 500th career goal.

“I wasn’t sure,” Quenneville said afterward on who scored that goal. “Pans had the bigger celebration, so…”

The Blackhawks’ first victory wasn’t a dominating one by any means. They got there thanks to great goaltending, and from a guy who’s gone from the minors in Toronto to the top line in Chicago.

“Those first two games, I got an opportunity on the top line and we lost those two games. So we weren’t happy about it,” Panik said. “But tonight we won, so we are pretty happy.”

Andrew Shaw on his career season in Montreal and adding toughness to Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw on his career season in Montreal and adding toughness to Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw had a terrific 2018-19 season with the Montreal Canadiens. He set a career high with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) despite missing 19 games due to injuries and averaged 15:55 of ice time, which was the highest of his NHL career.

When asked to explain why he believes he had the best offensive output of his career, Shaw pointed to one thing.

“Honestly I just think it was the hunger for the game," Shaw said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "I missed nine months with knee surgery and concussions. I battled back to get back to where I needed to be and just started having fun again. Maybe I’m bigger, stronger, older. I think I’ve been in situations in games so many times that you’re better at reacting to them so I think that maybe that has a little bit to do with it.”

The Blackhawks reacquired Shaw because they've lacked some jam in their game over the past couple seasons. And looking at the other moves GM Stan Bowman has made this summer, it's clear that's an area they prioritized.

Shaw noticed it too and he's excited to see how it'll all come together this coming season.

“I still have to be me," Shaw said. "I still have to go out there and work and compete and bring the energy I’ve always brought. I think it’s the intensity and the love of the game that pushes me to do that so I think it’s something that others feed off of. With a couple other guys they brought in, too, we got a little bit more grit, a little bit more defensive game. I think it’s going to be a really good year.”

Check out the interview in the video above.

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Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

The breakout star of Blackhawks development camp in July was undoubtedly Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018. It was evident how much his game has grown over the past year.

Former Blackhawks defenseman — and now player development coach — Brian Campbell worked closely with Boqvist this past season and raved about the steps he took with the London Knights in the OHL. But Campbell is also preaching patience in Boqvist's development. Boqvist just turned 19 on Thursday, and it's important to let him develop at his own pace.

“Yeah, I was impressed," Campbell said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Obviously, he’s come a long way in a year from last development camp. There’s no pressure being put on him. He’ll develop at his time. If he pushes for a spot, great, but I just don’t want people to get away. There’s a lot to keep learning and he wants to learn, which is the greatest thing. His teammates love him: great thing. He wants to do extra and learn the game: great thing. He is preparing himself days before, even in development camp, he’s preparing himself days before. So all great things and he’s on the right path.

"Hopefully that happens and maybe it does happen but if it doesn’t then that’s not the case and he keeps getting better and wants to keep getting better. Definitely, we know his skill level is there and I think he’s taken a huge step in the last year in preparing himself and knowing how to prepare as a pro player now. There’s a lot of great things there, and hopefully he does do that, but for me, I just don’t want to put too much on him right now. He’s turning 19 soon so he’s still a really young kid and it’s a tough position to play at a pro level. Believe me, I’m smiling, but I just don’t want to force the issue too much. Hopefully he can do some great things, but if he doesn’t, then that’s OK too.”