CHICAGO — Connor Bedard scored in the second period and Philipp Kurashev had a goal and two assists, helping the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Florida Panthers 5-2 on Saturday night.
Nick Foligno, Nikita Zaitsev and Taylor Hall scored in the first for Chicago, which was coming off an ugly 8-1 loss at Arizona on Monday. Petr Mrazek made 38 saves.
“I would have loved to see us play with that jam all night long,” Hall said of Chicago’s quick start. “We came out with some juice and, like I said, we didn’t really sustain that as well as we want to.
“But over the course of this year, hopefully that’s something we get to.”
Chicago (4-6-0) won its first home game in three tries this season.
“We haven’t been here that much yet this year,” coach Luke Richardson said. “I think we refocused after last game and played a really solid first period.”
It was the first goal of the season for Zaitsev and Hall, who was activated from injured reserve after being sidelined by a left shoulder injury. Hall, the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, was acquired in a June trade with Boston.
Florida’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored on a screened power-play shot 6:33 into the third, ending Mrazek’s bid for his first shutout since April 2021. Matthew Tkachuk tucked in a rebound at 12:29 but Chicago held on.
“I think we got sloppy in the second period,” Richardson said, “but they found a way in the third just to block shots and grind it out.”
Carter Verhaeghe assisted on both Florida goals. Anthony Stolarz made 19 saves in his second start this season.
The Panthers entered on a 3-0-1 roll. They were coming off a 2-0 victory at Detroit on Thursday behind Sergei Bobrovsky.
“We had a really tough first,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “We’ll play 246 periods (in the regular season) and I’m hoping that one’s our worst.”
Chicago had scored a total of five first-period goals this season, but put together a fast start.
Foligno opened the scoring at 6:25 on a power play. He fired in a loose puck from slot after Seth Jones’ shot from the point struck Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling and dropped to the ice.
Zaitsev connected from the slot at 9:21 after taking a feed from Kurashev, who retrieved his own rebound.
Hall plowed down the left wing and beat Stolarz between the legs at 12:39 with a low shot that struck the goalie’s stick and slid in.
Bedard scored 5:29 into the second, snapping a shot under Stolarz’s glove from the left circle. It was the fifth goal in 10 games for the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NHL draft.
Ekman-Larsson cut it to 4-1 at the end of a Florida power play — with Bedard off for high-sticking — after Chicago failed to clear the zone. Tkachuk scored from the edge of the crease with Mrazek down.
Florida outshot Chicago 15-3 in the final 20 minutes, but Kurashev tacked on an empty-netter with 10 seconds left to seal it.
“After the first period, there’s nothing else left for us to do but find a way out of it,” Maurice said. “That was probably as dominant a two periods after that we’ve had.”
Blackhawks rookie defenseman Wyatt Kaiser played with a neck guard after former NHL forward Adam Johnson died last weekend after his neck was cut by a skate blade during a game in England. Both Minnesota natives, Kaiser and Johnson played NCAA Division I hockey at Minnesota-Duluth, but at different times.
Panthers: Host Columbus on Monday.
Blackhawks: Host New Jersey on Sunday.
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