Here are 10 observations from the win:
1. This was the Blackhawks’ first game in five days. They had to sit on that ugly 8-1 loss to Arizona all week. Connor Bedard said before the game that he still had a “bad taste” in his mouth from it. The Blackhawks responded, just like they did when head coach Luke Richardson called his team out after the Boston game. Their legs looked fresh.
2. The Blackhawks erupted for three goals in the first period, scored by Nick Foligno (on the power play), Nikita Zaitsev and Taylor Hall, who returned to the lineup after missing the last two weeks with a left shoulder injury. They scored the three goals before Florida even recorded three shots on goal. It was a pretty dominating opening frame by the home team.
3. The Blackhawks continued to pour it on in the second period when Bedard scored his fifth goal of the season. Tyler Johnson almost made it 5-0 but he was denied at the doorstep. The score could’ve looked even more lopsided than it already was, although I guess I shouldn’t say that because the Panthers were the better team in the middle frame and they made it close in the third.
4. Petr Mrazek was barely tested in the first period. The same can’t be said about the second period, where Florida led in shots (19-7) and scoring chances (20-5), per Natural Stat Trick. Mrazek came up big and stopped the first 30 shots he faced before allowing his first goal of the game.
5. Corey Perry got into it with Panthers goaltenders Anthony Stolarz in the early part of the first period, and it looked like he legitimately wanted to scrap. Perry skated by him after the scrum had ended too, appearing to challenge him. What set Perry off was the Stolarz slash. If Perry was wearing an opposing sweater, he would’ve been booed so loud. But instead, he’s wearing a Blackhawks jersey, and he drew massive cheers. What a time.
6. Lukas Reichel recorded his first point of the season after picking up a secondary assist on Zaitsev’s goal. This was his first game on the wing this season. He looked confident, and you could see that in the first period when he undressed Dmitry Kulikov and generated a scoring chance. He just played freer.
7. The Blackhawks unveiled a bronze seat in Section 119 to commemorate late chairman Rocky Wirtz. Fans and community members can nominate themselves or someone they believe deserves the honor to sit in the seat during a game this season. Details here.
8. Wyatt Kaiser became the first Blackhawks player to wear a neck guard since the tragic Adam Johnson incident. He said before the game that he had worn one throughout high school and in World Juniors, so it wasn’t too new to him. Great to see, and I hope/imagine others follow suit in the future.
9. Kevin Korchinski played in his 10th NHL game of the season, which means his entry-level contract has officially kicked in. Same with Bedard. I would be surprised if Korchinski went back to the WHL at this point. Richardson said there hasn’t been any discussion about potential sending him to the World Juniors, either. I think he’s here to stay.
10. Alex Vlasic remains in concussion protocol and did not play, although he did practice with the team in full on Friday and participated in Saturday’s morning skate. He has “one more” hurdle to clear and it’s possible he plays on Sunday against New Jersey. Encouraging news.
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