RECAP: Chicago Blackhawks hold off Florida Panthers, snap four-game skid

Mar 23, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Florida Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar (52) and Chicago Blackhawks left wing Philipp Kurashev (23) go for the puck during the first period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Lankinen made 33 saves, Patrick Kane netted two assists, and Dominik Kubalik extended his point streak to six games to help the host Chicago Blackhawks snap a four-game skid with a 3-2 victory against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

Chicago raced to a 3-0 lead before holding off the Panthers to take the opener of a six-game homestand.

Kubalik opened the scoring at 6:24 of the first period, collecting a pass from Brandon Hagel and slipping a shot from the left faceoff circle through the five-hole of Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger.

Related: NHL power rankings – Panthers roar to No. 1 ahead of Stanley Cup playoffs

Chicago made it 2-0 at 18:30 of the first, as Pius Suter redirected a Nikita Zadorov wrist shot from the blue line. Another redirect benefited the Blackhawks at 4:22 of the second, with Carl Soderberg sending a Kane shot past Driedger, who stopped 29 shots.

Florida responded with an Anton Stralman goal just over four minutes later, as he scored past Lankinen after Noel Acciari placed a backhand pass through the legs of Chicago’s Ian Mitchell.

After spending time in the locker room upon absorbing a cross check from Zadurov, Acciari assisted on Alex Wennberg’s power-play goal at 15:22 of the third, which came with Florida playing with two extra attackers as the team aggressively pulled Driedger.

Panthers leading scorer Alexsander Barkov was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. Barkov, who has 13 goals and 24 assists for 37 points in 31 games, skated briefly in pregame warmups before leaving the ice.

Florida coach Joel Quenneville elected to replace Barkov with defenseman Markus Nutivaara, as the club used 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

Related: NHL trade rumors – Latest buzz for 2021 free agency

The Panthers could have used Barkov’s bite against the Blackhawks. He helped Florida to a 4-0 start against Chicago this season, tallying nine points.

Kane, who was honored in a pregame ceremony in his first home appearance since playing in his 1,000th career game March 9, tallied his 1,066th point to move into fourth place among American-born NHL players.

Chicago is set to host Florida again Thursday night.

–Field Level Media