Blackhawks hold off Panthers for fourth straight win

CHICAGO — Patrick Kane scored his first goal of the season, and the Chicago Blackhawks held on for their fourth straight win, 4-2 against the Florida Panthers at United Center on Tuesday.

Taylor Raddysh, Philipp Kurashev and Jonathan Toews also scored, and Alex Stalock made 29 saves for Chicago (4-2-0), which did not win its fourth game until Nov. 13 last seasons (4-9-2).

“It’s fun,” Kane said. “I think last year we didn’t win a game until our 10th or 11th game, so it’s nice to get off to this start this year. I think when you get off to a good start, you can really propel that throughout the season , so hopefully that’s the case.”

Eetu Luostarinen and Matthew Tkachuk scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 18 saves for Florida (4-2-1).

“We battled to the end, but we had to because we were so bad in the first two periods,” Tkachuk said. “We put ourselves in a terrible position. Definitely our worst two periods of the season. We’ve got the talent when we want to play the right way and are playing aggressive, not sitting back and being smart with pucks. We can do what we did there in the third and take over a period and give ourselves a chance to win even though we had no business winning the hockey game with that start.”

Video: FLA@CHI: Kane picks corner for 1st of season

Raddysh gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead at 2:57 of the first period, scoring with a slap shot from the right circle off a zone entry on the power play.

It was the first time Chicago has scored the opening goal this season.

Kane pushed it to 2-0 at 19:37 when he received a pass from Andreas Athanasiou all alone in the right circle and shot blocker side on Bobrovsky.

“It’s a good feeling,” Kane said of scoring his first goal. “I try not to put too much pressure on it. There are going to be times throughout the season where you may go five games without a goal, but it’s probably more noticeable at the beginning of the season. It was nice to get one. Hopefully (I can) build off that, get hot here.”

Kurashev made it 3-0 at 15:58 of the second period. He skated around Gustav Forslingwho was hobbled after blocking a shot, before getting the puck back to his forehand and scoring blocker side.

Luostarinen made it 3-1 at 11:32 of the third period on a rebound in front.

Tkachuk then cut it to 3-2 at 12:47 when he deflected a shot by Brandon Montour from the right point, but Toews scored into an empty net at 19:37 for the 4-2 final.

Video: FLA@CHI: Tkachuk tips in Montour’s shot

The Panthers went 0-for-6 on the power play, including a 5-on-3 for 1:35 midway through the second period during which they generated three shots.

“There’s going to be a bunch of opportunities to look and say, ‘If that had gone, what would have happened?'” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “You know what? [The Blackhawks] played well. They defended well, they blocked shots, they got in the lanes.”

Chicago coach Luke Richardson said the penalty kill gave the team a “huge boost.”

“Like our willingness to sacrifice for our team and our goalie, and especially the second period was huge,” Richardson said. “But even the third period in a crucial time in the game, blocking shots, guys are standing up and [on the] bench cheering. It becomes contagious, and then it continues into the 5-on-6 situation, which is like a penalty kill. I think it becomes like a bit of an identity for us that we’re willing to do.”

Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson left early in the third period after he was hit into the boards by Alexander Barkov.

“Not good tonight, but we’ll know more tomorrow,” Richardson said. “He’s been so good for us. We just hope it’s not really long. You know he’s a tough cookie. He’s been great statistically for us, but watching him play away from the puck this year has been really inspirational for younger players on the team , and he’s leading by example.

“He’s not a big guy (5-foot-8, 185 pounds), but he’s physical. And he’s a presence, he’s a voice. He’s got the experience of winning and what it takes to win, so definitely if he’s out for a bit, we’re going to miss that. We’re just crossing our fingers tonight for that.”

NOTE: Kane’s goal in the first period was his 800th even-strength point. He is the third active player to reach the mark, joining Sydney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins (896) and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (879), and the third player in Blackhawks history, along with Stan Mikita (987) and Bobby Hull (806).

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