Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice warned his team not to take the Chicago Blackhawks lightly on Saturday night.
His team did not appear to heed those warnings.
The Blackhawks, a team which lost by seven to the Coyotes on Monday, came after the Panthers from the drop and scored three goals in the first period before holding on for a 5-2 win.
Florida’s four-game point streak came to an abrupt halt.
Saturday night was a disaster from the start although the Panthers did show signs of life as things wore on and scored twice in the third to make this one at least look reasonable.
But, all of Florida’s action came down 4-0 as it got steamrolled in the first period.
Anthony Stolarz gave up four goals in the first 25-plus minutes although it is hard to blame him for this.
Stolarz did get into a scrape with Corey Perry which was fun.
Maurice changed up all the lines in the second, Florida predictably came out hot but could not beat Petr Mrazek until Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s power play shot got through with 13:29 left in the game.
By then, Florida was down 4-0 after Connor Bedard pounced on a puck Eetu Luostarinen couldn’t handle, rolled in on Stolark and sent a fireball past him from the left circle at 5:29 of the second.
Florida did come thisclose to making it 4-2 with about 13 minutes left, but Sasha Barkov missed what was basically an empty net as his backhand attempt hit the crossbar.
With 7:31 remaining, Matthew Tkachuk did pull the Panthers within 2 as he chopped at a loose puck to get his 500th NHL point.
After being held to six shots in the first period, Florida outshot the Blackhawks 34-10 in the final two periods — but an empty net goal from Phillip Kurashev with 9.1 seconds left ended any comeback hopes.
And, down two with 10 seconds left, what hopes were there?
Columbus. Monday. Sunrise.
GOALS OF THE GAME
- Blackhawks 1, Panthers 0 (6:25, 1st PP): Seth Jones sent a shot toward the net which got blocked by Gus Forsling and landed flush on the stick of Nick Foligno. He did not miss. Chicago was outshooting Florida 6-0 at the time. Things would get worse.
- Blackhawks 2, Panthers 0 (9:21, 1st): A wide-open Nikita Zaitsev scores from the slot.
- Blackhawks 3, Panthers 0 (12:39, 1st): Taylor Hall drives in and puts one in through the skates of Anthony Stolarz.
- Blackhawks 4, Panthers 0 (5:29, 2nd): Future Rookie of the Year Connor Bedard broke loose on a bouncing puck from the Florida zone and rifled one past Stolarz to all but end this one.
- Blackhawks 4, Panthers 1 (6:31, 3rd PP): Oliver Ekman-Larsson got his second of the season by sending a point shot through traffic to give the Panthers a rare power play goal.
- Blackhawks 4, Panthers 2 (12:29, 3rd): A loose puck from a Carter Verhaeghe shot was pushed through by Matthew Tkachuk as he gets his 500th career NHL point and gives his team a chance.
- Blackhawks 5, Panthers 2 (19:50, 3rd EN): Phillip Kurashev ends it.
GR’S 3 STARS OF THE GAME
1. Petr Mrazek, Chicago (38 saves)
2. Phillip Kurashev, Chicago (ENG, 2 assists)
3. Nick Foligno, Chicago (goal)
PANTHERS ON DECK
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Monday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WAXY 790-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL/Panthers App
- Last Season: Florida won 2-1
- This Season: @Florida Monday, Ap. 11; @Columbus Dec 10
- All-time Regular Season Series: Columbus leads 26-17-4
- Up Next for the Panthers: Wednesday at Washington (TNT), 7:30 p.m.