10 observations: Connor Bedard scores twice but Blackhawks fall to Panthers

10 observations: Connor Bedard scores twice but Blackhawks fall to Panthers originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Chicago Blackhawks fell to the Florida Panthers 4--3 on Sunday at Amerant Bank Arena.

Here are 10 observations from the loss:

1. The Panthers were very much the better hockey team, even though the score was close. The Blackhawks struggled to generate chances; that wasn't the case for the Panthers, who controlled 5-on-5 play and also scored two power-play goals.

2. Connor Bedard has gone from heating up to on fire. He scored two more goals in this game — his first of two making the highlight reel — and now has seven goals in his last six games. He has nine on the season. I think he's starting to figure it out.

3. What's funny is, Aleksander Barkov's line had its way with Bedard's line for most of the game. But Bedard is a special player in a sense that he can make something happen on one shift or two shifts and it could change everything.

4. Andreas Athanasiou and Taylor Hall did not play due to injuries. Neither did Jarred Tinordi, who was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 9. Just when the Blackhawks finally got close to fully healthy for the first time this season, they got hit with three injuries at the same time. Tough luck.

5. Petr Mrazek was terrific in the first meeting against Florida, but it was Arvid Söderblom who got the start in goal for this matchup. He was under fire practically all game. Poor guy has only three wins in 24 career appearances with the Blackhawks.

6. The Panthers thought they scored with about two minutes left in the first period that would've put them ahead 3-1. But the officials immediately waved it off due to goaltender interference. A big swing, in hindsight, but the Blackhawks couldn't make them pay in the end.

7. Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov absolutely crushed Bedard with a heavy hit in the second period. I was surprised he didn't immediately get called for boarding, but when looking at the reply, it was close. Loved seeing the response by Nick Foligno, who was having none of it. Foligno got his with a four-minute penalty but the Blackhawks killed it off.

8. This was a fun hockey game. Lots of chances, goals, big saves, and of course, some highlight-reel plays, led by Bedard. Fans got their money's worth.

9. The Blackhawks' all-time record on the Moms trips is now 6-4-2. They're 6-2-4 on the Dads trip. They should bring the parents on every trip.

10. The Panthers were a great story last season, reaching the Stanley Cup Final after barely making the playoffs. I think they're going to have a hard time getting in this season. I wouldn't be surprised if they missed.

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