|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT, November 25, 2017
BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida Attendance: 14,302
Toews leads Blackhawks to win over Panthers
(TSX / STATS) -- SUNRISE, Fla. -- For much of the past eight games, Chicago Blackhawks top-line center Jonathan Toews had been trying to forget.
But Saturday night's performance was one to remember as he led Chicago to a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.
"It's funny how much things can change," said Toews, who posted one goal and two assists for a season-high three points. "You going into every game trying to forget (that) pucks are not going in even though you're creating chances.
"You try to create that feeling that you're going to get lucky and when the puck gets on your stick things can happen. But it's a whole different thing when you get a bounce."
Toews, whose only goal in the previous eight games had come with an empty net, certainly got a bounce Saturday.
With Chicago leading 3-1 late in the second period, Toews stole the puck from Florida defenseman Mark Pysyk, who was stripped deep in his own end. Toews' check sent the puck flying before he swatted it with one hand toward Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo.
The puck bounced once and then went through the legs of a stunned Luongo.
"It was batted out of mid-air -- I don't know how," Luongo said. "I tried to make a play on it, but when it bounced it took a funny hop and went five-hole. It was one of those where you shake your head. It was a weird play -- just one of those nights."
Chicago (11-8-3) also got goals from John Hayden, Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane and solid goaltending from Corey Crawford (37 saves).
Jared McCann scored for Florida (8-12-2), which got 35 saves from Luongo.
The Panthers failed on their two power-play chances despite putting nine shots on goal with the man advantage.
But the biggest issue for Florida going forward could be the injury to top-line winger Evgenii Dadonov, who was hit high by Chicago defenseman Cody Franson during a third-period collision near the Blackhawks goal. There was no immediate update on Dadonov's status.
Chicago outshot Florida 21-7 in the first period, taking a 2-0 lead.
The first goal came when right winger Tommy Wingels skated behind Florida's net and fired the puck toward the slot. Panthers center Derek MacKenzie had a chance for the clear but missed, and Hayden roofed the puck over Luongo's glove.
Chicago made it 2-0 on a goal set up by Toews, whose initial shot was blocked by Luongo. Toews grabbed the rebound, circled and sent the puck to the front of the net laterally, where Saad scored on a redirection.
The first penalty of the game -- Chicago's Nick Schmaltz called for hooking Keith Yandle -- gave Florida momentum to start the second period. The Panthers got three shots on goal during their power play, and 15 seconds after the penalty was killed, McCann scored on a rocket shot from the high slot past Crawford's glove.
"(Dadonov) made a good drop pass," McCann said. "I didn't see anybody coming ... so I waited a bit and got a little closer."
Whatever momentum Florida had blown up was quickly deflated as Chicago scored the next two goals of the second period, victimizing the Panthers' Pysyk twice.
First, Saad broke up a Pysyk pass in the neutral zone and got the puck to Toews, who fed Kane on the right wing. Kane circled once and then scored on a wrist shot from the right circle.
Ten minutes later, Toews scored, and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was thrilled for his team captain.
"When you look at the chances (Toews) has had in the past three or four games, he was doing everything he could to break loose," Quenneville said. "Hopefully, that's a good sign."
Florida outshot Chicago 12-8 in the third period but couldn't beat Crawford, and the Blackhawks killed off a Panthers power play to secure the victory.
For the Panthers, everyone interviewed after the game blamed Florida's poor first period for the loss.
"I don't think we were ready to play -- plain and simple," Luongo said. "We were turning pucks over and giving them away, and that was what fed their offense."
McCann added, "That was one of our worst periods of the year."
NOTES: Chicago C Jonathan Toews has averaged 26 goals the past four seasons. His goal was only his sixth this season. ... Chicago LW Brandon Saad's goal was just his second in the past 16 games. Saad plays on Chicago's top line. ... Florida fourth-line C Derek MacKenzie, who hadn't played since Nov. 11 because of a lower-body injury, returned. ... Panthers second-line RW Radim Vrbata (face) missed his second straight game. ... Chicago returns home to face the Anaheim Ducks on Monday. Florida will depart on a two-game road trip to face the New Jersey Devils on Monday and the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
Updated November 25, 2017