Florida Panthers (26-21-12) at Chicago Blackhawks (35-19-5)
|Date & Time||Tuesday February 24, 2015, 8:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: Chicago Blackhawks -210 / Florida Panthers +188 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Florida Panthers needed to find a way to get a win on Saturday night in Ottawa in order to make sure that this road trip was a success, but instead they fell flat on their face. Aleksander Barkov’s ninth goal of the season gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead in a first period that they ended up being thoroughly out played in. The score was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes but Ottawa took the lead on Bobby Ryan’s second period goal and never looked back. Roberto Luongo surrendered two more goals in the third period in a game where the Panthers were out shot 39-22 despite the fact that they were trailing for more than half the game. The game was imperative because the Panthers had to follow it up with a trip to Pittsburgh on Sunday before traveling to Chicago on Tuesday night. Instead of rebounding in a big way they flopped after watching the team they’re chasing in the standings roll out a dominant performance in the afternoon. There was a lot more life from the club in this one but Marc-Andre Fleury had there number all night long. Patric Hornqvist’s goal gave the Penguins a 1-0 first period lead despite Pittsburgh being outshot 16-8. It was 2-0 after two periods of play despite the Panthers getting the better of the opportunities, but that seemed to leave Florida dejected heading into the third. Al Montoya allowed a goal 19 seconds into the final period and before the teams were halfway through it was 5-0 Pittsburgh. Scottie Upshall’s sixth goal of the season broke up the shutout. Now the Panthers have to travel to Chicago to take on a Blackhawks team that is going to be looking to respond in a big way after being embarrassed on home ice by the Bruins on Sunday afternoon.
Corey Crawford was pulled after allowing four goals on 14 shots as the Bruins turned what looked like it was going to be a good hockey game into an absolute rout. Crawford allowed two goals on eight shots in the opening frame but Jonthan Toews redirected a beautiful pass from Patrick Kane with just two seconds remaining in the period to cut the deficit to a goal. It came with the Blackhawks on the power play after two consecutive Tuukka Rask meltdowns, but instead of propelling the Blackhawks it seemed to go the other way. Milan Lucic beat Crawford at 6:18 to give Boston back the two goal lead and after Gregory Campbell’s shot beat Crawford his night was done. Antti Raanta didn’t fare much better, allowing two goals on just 16 shots in relief. Bryan Bickell scored his 11th goal of the season in the third period. Chicago currently sits in third place in the Central Division standings, looking at a potential first round match up with the St. Louis Blues. If they’re not careful the Winnipeg Jets or Minnesota Wild could start putting heat on them as well in this playoff race during the final month of this season.
The Blackhawks are heavy favorites in this one and it would make sense that they would bounce back in this one. Florida has surprised all year long and despite their struggles they do play hard every night. This is a game the Panthers could win but the total might be the better play.