Dangerous with a deficit.
That’s the Chicago Blackhawks, who have trailed 2-0 in the first period in three straight games.
Somehow, the Blackhawks have won all three of those games, and they will ride that winning streak into Tuesday night’s matchup with the visiting Florida Panthers.
“Definitely impressive,” Blackhawks first-year coach Luke Richardson said of Chicago’s Comeback Kids.
The streak started with a 5-2 win in San Jose on Oct. 15 when Sam Lafferty scored the tying and go-ahead goals.
Back home, Chicago trailed the Detroit Red Wings, 2-0 and 3-1. Defenseman Connor Murphy scored short-handed for the tying goal midway through the third period, and Max Domi scored in overtime for a 4-3 win.
“We showed good resilience,” Blackhawks center Andreas Athanasiou said following the win over the Wings.
The Blackhawks were just getting started.
In Sunday’s 5-4 win over the visiting Seattle Kraken, Chicago once again spotted the opposition two quick goals. But trailing 4-3 with seven minutes remaining in the third period, Chicago’s Jason Dickinson and Tyler Johnson scored the tying and go-ahead goals 13 seconds apart for yet another improbable victory.
“We dodged a bullet,” Richardson said after the win over Seattle. “But as the game went on, we played better. When it really counted, we played hard. We’ve become a (tight) group, and it’s nice to see.”
Chicago’s 3-2-0 start is a bit surprising given that the Blackhawks missed the playoffs the past two years. They are in a rebuilding period, and will be without goalie Petr Mrazek (1-1-0, 3.76 goals-against average) for at least a week due to a groin injury, according to Richardson. Mzarek was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Friday.
Veteran Alex Stalock, who beat Seattle, is the expected starter against the Panthers. Stalock, 35, is 2-1-0 with a 2.14 GAA this season.
Florida will likely counter with starter Sergei Bobrovsky (2-1-1, 2.79 GAA). He rested on Sunday while backup Spencer Knight improved to 2-0-0 with a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders.
The Panthers are off to a good start, getting at least one point in five of their six games, and sit just a point behind Atlantic Division-leading Boston.
Winger Matthew Tkachuk, Florida’s big offseason acquisition, had his season-opening five-game points streak snapped Sunday. But he still leads the Panthers in goals (three), assists (five) and points (eight).
Tkachuk has also given the Panthers a hard edge they lacked last season, when they won the Presidents Cup as the NHL’s best regular-season team before getting swept in the second round of the playoffs by Tampa Bay.
So far, this team feels different.
For example, Florida’s first two goals on Sunday came when young Panthers players Anton Lundell and Eetu Luostarinen forced mistakes with their hard forechecking game.
Panthers coach Paul Maurice was clearly impressed.
“Young players don’t necessarily see that as part of their games,” Maurice said. “Young players tend to be playmakers and shooters. But the idea of creating offense from a hard forecheck — that’s the stuff where you train young players.”
The Panthers stuffed the Islanders 5-on-5, allowing no goals and just one high-danger shot attempt at even strength.
“We’ve been playing hard,” Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg said. “We’re a hard team to play against.”
–Field Level Media