Chicago Blackhawks Find Spark From Balanced Lines
By Stephen Yatsushiro
Chicago Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton changed up his lines against the Florida Panthers. The third period change sparked a dramatic shift in momentum and eventual overtime victory.
The story was playing out once again in Sunrise, Florida. The Chicago Blackhawks managed to fall behind the Panthers 4-2, the same score as the night before against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The ‘Hawks were outclassed by a superior Lightning team and were about to be handed yet another loss.
Against Florida in the first period, Mike Hoffman put the Panthers ahead at 5:48 on a sweet one-timer on the power play. At 13:40, Jared McCann put the Panthers up 2-0 as three ‘Hawks defenders became hypnotized by the puck and left him all alone in front of Cam Ward. The poor penalty kill and worse team defense once again put the Blackhawks in an all too familiar hole.
Energy and the top line
Fortunately, the Chicago Blackhawks managed to tie the game in the second period. Just 49 seconds into the second period, David Kampf did his best Rick Nash impersonation and blew past Aaron Ekblad to beat goalie James Reimer with a long stick.
Then, the top line completed a picturesque play at 5:34. On the rush, Brandon Saad flipped a perfect feed to Patrick Kane for a deflection past James Reimer. This was reminiscent of how the ‘Hawks have played in transition during their best days.
The problem with this is that the Chicago Blackhawks were never able to maintain momentum. Just two and a half minutes later, a wide-open Aaron Ekblad scored from the left circle.
Patrick Kane was already fleeing the zone and left Ekblad all alone for the easy chance. This prompted the eye roll from coach Jeremy Colliton.
And about three minutes later, Frank Vatrano finessed a waist high feed past Cam Ward to give the Panthers another two goal lead.