Blackhawks

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 release 2018-19 schedule

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

Uncap those markers and start circling your calendars, Blackhawks fans. The 2018-19 season is officially out.

The Blackhawks will kick off their 91st campaign in franchise history with a road contest against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. The home opener is set for Oct. 7, with an Original Six matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m.

The Blackhawks have 14 back-to-back games, and the longest road trip of the season is three, which takes place five times over the course of the season; the longest homestand is four games, from Dec. 12-18.

The biggest highlight of the season will be the Original Six Winter Classic Showdown between the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium. It will be the sixth outdoor appearance for Chicago, and fourth in the Winter Classic.

The Blackhawks will also square off with the defending champion Washington Capitals on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m., and welcome them to Chicago on Jan. 20, set for NBC's Game of the Week at 11:30 a.m.

Here's a look at the full schedule:

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said that the team expects goalie Corey Crawford to be back next season around training camp. Bowman also mentioned that Crawford might speak about his status himself during the Blackhawks Convention.

“What I said at the end of the year was still the case now, which is we expect Corey to be back,” Bowman said in a Thursday afternoon conference call. “We don’t have any reason to think that’s not going to happen.”

According to Bowman, Blackhawks players, including Crawford, already have their eyes set on next season.

“At this point in the summer, all the players are preparing for next season,” Bowman said. “Corey’s in that same preparation mode.”

Crawford is nursing what has been labeled an upper-body injury by the team. The two-time Stanley Cup winner was put on the shelf for the rest of the season back in late December, and he has not seen the ice since he skated in a February practice.

“Nothing has changed,” Bowman said. “We expect him to be back and ready to go in training camp.”

The Blackhawks have chosen to keep any groundbreaking news with Crawford under wraps, which the organization has done with other player injuries in the past. Bowman spoke about his vagueness in this situation.

“We’ve never gone into specifics about injuries,” Bowman said. “I realize this probably gets more attention because he’s our starting goalie and he won the Stanley Cup.”

Fans will have to take a wait-and-see approach, because it is unlikely that there will be a significant update regarding Crawford’s health before the season gets closer to its start.

Last season, Crawford only appeared in 28 games, posting a record of 16-9 with 782 saves before going down for the rest of the year.