By Brad Gardner
The Blackhawks survived their first game of the Florida road trip, squeaking past the Panthers by a score of 3-2 in a shootout. The win brought Chicago’s shootout record back up to 2-2 and extended the team’s current winning streak to three games.
Jonathan Toews put the Blackhawks up 1-0 just over four minutes into the first period. Defenseman Sean O’Donnell cleared his zone with a flip pass towards the offensive end. The puck was collected by Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who played to his defensive partner Mike Weaver. Toews descended on the unsuspecting Weaver and forced the turnover to Andrew Brunette. The winger returned it to Toews as he crashed the net and the Hawks captain tipped the puck past the rookie Markstrom for the first goal of the game.
The Panthers out-shot the Hawks 15-7 in the opening frame but were unable to solve Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford. Scottie Upshall led the Florida attack with five shots.
Despite the shot disparity, Chicago extended their lead at the 5:41 mark of the second period. Patrick Kane carried the puck into the zone on the rush as Andrew Brunette attacked the front of the net. Brunette drew Kulikov closer to the crease and gave Kane a lane to pass across the zone to an open Marian Hossa. He ripped a quick one-timer between the legs of Markstrom to put the Hawks up by two goals.