Panthers aim to regain confidence against Blackhawks

Field Level Media

The disheartened Florida Panthers will host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night in Sunrise, Fla.

Florida squandered an early two-goal lead and dropped a 5-3 decision to Toronto in a crucial home game on Thursday night. The Panthers trail the Maple Leafs by four points in the battle for the third playoff berth in the Atlantic Division.

"Let's try to recapture some confidence here at home," Florida coach Joel Quenneville said when asked about the game versus the Blackhawks. "Let's find a way to get two points."

Quenneville said his top line of captain Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadonov didn't have enough puck possession. The trio was held without a point and combined for a minus-six rating.

"Everybody needs to play better, and that starts with me," said Barkov, who is second on the Panthers with 62 points. "We couldn't get a lot going (against Toronto)."

Hoffman scored his team-high 26th goal of the season against Toronto. Huberdeau tops the team with 77 points, but he has no goals and just one assist in his past three games.

Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has alternated a win with a loss for his past four games. The two-time Vezina Trophy recipient is 23-19-5 with a 3.26 goals-against average and an .899 save percentage.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks -- who are in a rebuilding season and likely to miss the playoffs for the third straight year -- are coming off an impressive 5-2 win over the host Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Veteran goalie Corey Crawford, 35, made 36 saves for just his second win in his past eight starts. He is 12-18-3 this season with a 2.88 GAA and a .914 SP.

Dominik Kubalik scored three goals -- all in the third period -- on Thursday.

Kubalik, a 24-year-old winger from the Czech Republic, leads all NHL rookies with 29 goals. He also leads all Blackhawks players in goals and has scored seven in his past seven games.

"I have no idea what's clicking -- I would like to know as well," said Kubalik, a seventh-round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2013.

"I've just been around the net."

Besides Kubalik, Chicago's stars are veterans Patrick Kane (28 goals, 78 points) and captain Jonathan Toews (16 goals, 54 points). Kane scored 44 goals last season, and Toews had 35.

The coaching matchup features Quenneville, who was fired by Chicago on Nov. 6, 2018, and 35-year-old Jeremy Colliton, who replaced him on the Blackhawks bench.

Quenneville, who led the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup titles as their head coach, directed the Panthers to a 4-3 win in Chicago on Jan. 21 in their previous meeting this season. The Panthers received a hat trick from Frank Vatrano, and Quenneville got an ovation from Chicago's fans.

"That was a memorable event," Quenneville said of his reception and the win. "I'm thankful."

--Field Level Media

What to Read Next