Richard Panik breaks out of slump in Blackhawks shootout win over Panthers

Richard Panik breaks out of slump in Blackhawks shootout win over Panthers

When the Blackhawks return home following their Circus Trip, they’re always wary of their first game back at the United Center.

They’ve sometimes been lethargic in this return. Two weeks on the road, hopping from one time zone to another, will do that to you. So the Blackhawks didn’t need to be pretty against the Florida Panthers. They needed to just find a way to eke one out.

Thanks once again to their goaltending, they did.

Crawford stopped 38 of 39 shots in regulation and overtime and Artemi Panarin scored the shootout winner as the Blackhawks edged the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks, who have collected points in their past three games, (2-0-1), remain atop the Western Conference with 33 points.

Again, they may need to check on another loss. Artem Anisimov left after blocking a Duncan Keith shot off the inside of his right foot/ankle late in the third period and did not return. Coach Joel Quenneville said, “they had it looked at, he seemed to be OK but we’ll know more tomorrow.”

Richard Panik scored his first goal since Oct. 22. He also helped seal the shootout with his high wrist shot over Roberto Luongo, who stopped 32 of 33 shots for the Panthers.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks looked like they usually do after the Circus Trip: decent, not great, and struggling to get much done. Factor in that this was their third game without captain Jonathan Toews, who’s still out with an upper-body injury. They had some good opportunities, but Luongo was stingy. While the Blackhawks were figuring things out in front of him, Crawford was once again calm and convincing in net.

“We’re really grateful for Corey being behind us,” Panarin said via interpreter Igor Alfimov. “If it weren’t for him, the last couple game would turn out differently that’s for sure. We’re lucky to have him.”

Crawford faced some prime opportunities throughout the night and, again, dealt with a lot of shots.

“Yeah, but our guys were clearing lanes and taking away rebounds,” Crawford said. “When you see the first shot and clear the rest after that, get sticks in there, it’s just a big win for us after coming back from the road.”

It was another game in which the Blackhawks were outshot in the first period (13-8) but still led at the end of it. Credit that to Panik, who took a long Dennis Rasmussen pass and backhanded one past Luongo.

“I think he had an outstanding start to the season, then it slowed for him. You need that taste where you’re getting some rewards,” Quenneville said. “He started playing some solid games at the end of that trip and tonight he was ready from the outset.”

Jaromir Jagr scored a power-play goal early in the third period before Panarin decided it in the shootout.

The Blackhawks won’t get any style points for Tuesday’s victory. The first game off the Circus Trip is rarely pretty. But it worked, so they’ll take it.

“Actually, it was a tough game, also kind of a sleepy game,” Panarin said. “We tried our best to get maximum out of ourselves.”

Blackhawks injury updates: Drake Caggiula placed in concussion protocol for second time in a year

USA Today

Blackhawks injury updates: Drake Caggiula placed in concussion protocol for second time in a year

LAS VEGAS — The Blackhawks announced Wednesday morning that Drake Caggiula will not play against the Vegas Golden Knights because of what they initially believed was an illness. But after further evaluation, the medical staff has placed the 25-year-old winger in concussion protocol.

"Just want to clarify," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "He wasn’t feeling well this morning, now the doctors have evaluated him, we’re going to put him in concussion protocol. Obviously that changes things a little bit."

It's the second time in the calendar year Caggiula has been sidelined because of a concussion. He missed 13 games last season, suffering the injury on Feb. 22 against the Anaheim Ducks.

It's unclear what may have happened this time around and when it occurred, but the Blackhawks are playing it safe, as they should.

"There are some symptoms," Colliton said, "so we want to be sure."

Caggiula has four points (one goal, three assists) in 15 games this season. He promoted to the first line during Tuesday's practice, so it's unfortunate timing for both Caggiula and the Blackhawks, who are 2-0-1 in their last three games.

Connor Murphy on track to return Saturday

One day after practicing for the first time since reaggravating a groin injury on Oct. 22, Murphy traveled with the Blackhawks to Vegas and is on track to return Saturday against the Nashville Predators, which is when he's eligible to come off long-term injured reserve.

"It looks good," Colliton said. "I think when he comes off, we’ll make an evaluation, we’ll see what our lineup looks like hopefully. But I don’t think there’s much point in making that call until game day."

With Murphy set to return soon, the Blackhawks must make a corresponding move to become cap compliant, even though they have one spot open on their 23-man roster. As of Wednesday, the Blackhawks have $2,979,958 in cap space, according to Cap Friendly. Murphy's remaining daily cap hit of $2,980,645 barely exceeds that.

Adam Boqvist is the obvious candidate to be reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, but not because of performance-based reasons. It just wouldn't make sense for the Blackhawks to carry eight defensemen and stunt his growth by rotating him in and out of the lineup.

Corey Crawford shakes off injury scare

There was a mini injury scare during Wednesday's morning skate in Vegas. Crawford tried making a save from right to left and hyperextended his left leg on the post. He stayed down for a few seconds then removed himself from the crease to collect himself but stayed on the ice for the remainder of the skate.

Crawford told NBC Sports Chicago afterwards that he's fine and will make his scheduled start against the Golden Knights. He is 1-0-2 with a .929 save percentage in three starts this month.

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks offense finally opens things up as Patrick Kane starts streaking

USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks offense finally opens things up as Patrick Kane starts streaking

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis break down the changes made to the Hawks defensive zone coverage (1:50) and Patrick Kane’s current points streak (7:30). They also discuss how most of the players that have been scratched recently have had bounce-back efforts (11:20), as well as the improved play of Erik Gustafsson (18:12) and both special teams units (20:16). Plus, the debut of “Checkpoint Charlie," where Charlie gives us a taste of life on the road and his encounter with Chris Rock’s brother (29:00).

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 


Blackhawks Talk Podcast