Florida Panthers Struggle Early and Lose to Chicago Blackhawks to End Road Trip

First period dooms Florida Panthers in loss to Chicago Blackhawks to end road trip

The Florida Panthers had a tough time in their game against the Chicago Blackhawks, largely due to a bad first period. Unfortunately, they couldn’t recover and ended up losing 5-2 on Saturday at the United Center, concluding a three-game road trip.

In the third period, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Matthew Tkachuk scored goals, giving the Panthers some hope for a comeback, but it wasn’t enough.

This loss ends the Panthers’ four-game point streak, and their record falls to 5-4-1. The road trip began with an overtime loss to the Boston Bruins and a win over the Detroit Red Wings.

On the other hand, Chicago improved to a 4-6-0 record.

The trouble for the Panthers started in the first period when they gave up three goals in a little over six minutes, falling behind 3-0.

Nick Foligno was the first to score against Anthony Stolarz, tapping in a puck that had bounced off Florida defenseman Gustav Forsling just 6:25 into the game. Shortly after, Nikita Zaitsev fired a shot from the slot to double Chicago’s lead during a four-on-four situation. Taylor Hall capped the scoring in the first period with 7:21 left.

Before this game, the Panthers had allowed only four goals in the first period in their first nine games. Against the Blackhawks, they were outshot 14-6 in the opening 20 minutes.

In the second period, Connor Bedard, the 18-year-old rookie phenom and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NHL draft, added to Chicago’s lead with an uncontested shot from the left circle at 5:29.

The Panthers dominated possession and had more offensive chances over the final 40 minutes, outshooting Chicago 34-10 in the second and third periods.

Their breakthrough came on a power play with 13:27 left in regulation when Ekman-Larsson scored with a slap shot from the point.

Tkachuk then cut Florida’s deficit to two goals with a backhanded shot from just in front of the net on a feed from Carter Verhaeghe. This goal marked Tkachuk’s 500th career point, with 118 of them coming in 89 games with Florida.

However, the Panthers couldn’t get any closer, and Chicago’s Philipp Kurashev sealed the deal with an empty-net goal with 11 seconds left in the game.

Next up, the Panthers have four games in the coming week, with three of them at Amerant Bank Arena.

They start with a home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday. After that, they face the Washington Capitals on the road Wednesday, followed by a home game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday and another game against the Blackhawks on Sunday.