Preview: Blackhawks at Panthers
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[March 25, 2017]
The Chicago Blackhawks continue
to widen their lead in the Central Division and look to extend their
point streak to eight games when they start a three-game road trip
against the Florida Panthers on Saturday. The Blackhawks defeated
Dallas 3-2 in a shootout Thursday to improve to 6-0-1 in their last
seven games and lead Minnesota by eight points in the Central with
one more game played.
Chicago’s Patrick Kane notched his team-leading 33rd goal Thursday
for his 21st point in the last 14 games to push his total to 81 –
six behind league-leader Connor McDavid of Edmonton. The Blackhawks
had a tough time with the Panthers in a 2-1 shootout victory on Nov.
29 in interim coach Tom Rowe’s debut and Florida has been up and
down since. The Panthers are seven points out of the second wild
card in the Eastern Conference after earning its fourth win in 15
games – a 3-1 triumph against Arizona on Thursday. “They want to be
in the playoffs and I know the picture doesn’t look good,” Rowe told
reporters Thursday. “We’re not thinking that way. We think we have a
chance to do it.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, WGN (Chicago), FSN Florida
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (48-20-6): Goalie Corey Crawford rebounded from
a rough outing to turn aside 42 shots Thursday and reach 30
victories for the fourth straight season. Captain Jonathan Toews
also recorded an assist to extend his point streak to six games in
which he scored three goals and set up four others. Veteran Marian
Hossa owns goals in back-to-back games and fellow forward Richard
Panik reached 20 tallies for the first time in his career with a
pair in the last three contests.
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ABOUT THE PANTHERS (32-30-11): Left wing Jonathan
Marchessault continues to add to his career-best season with a pair
of goals Thursday to push his team-leading total to 25 and Rowe told
reporters, “He’s probably the purest goal scorer we have.” Center
Vincent Trocheck leads the team with 50 points, but posted only one
in the last five games while Aleksander Barkov moved within two
points of Trocheck after registering three the last four contests.
Defenseman Aaron Ekblad missed Thursday’s game with a neck injury
and is questionable.
1. Florida RW Jaromir Jagr recorded four assists in his last four
games to push his career point total to 1,909.
2. Chicago D Trevor van Riemsdyk posted an assist in three
consecutive contests and is one shy of matching his career high of
11 set last season.
3. The Panthers are 1-for-11 on the power play over the last five
games and are 25th in the league (16.4 percent).
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 5, Panthers 2
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