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Hawks keep flying with 3-2 SO victory over Panthers

by Alain Poupart
SUNRISE, Fla. — Patrick Kane dazzled with his stick-handling and playmaking ability, but it was goalie Corey Crawford who was the biggest reason the Chicago Blackhawks continued their hot start Thursday night at Florida.

Crawford made 41 saves in regulation and overtime before turning back three Florida players in the shootout, allowing Kane to clinch a 3-2 victory over the Panthers by beating rookie Jacob Markstrom.

"To me, at the end of the night it was a goalie win," said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. "Crow was great for us and kept us in there.  
It wasn't pretty, but give Crow some credit."

Crawford shut out the Panthers 4-0 in the teams' last meeting in March and had a scoreless run of 98:19 against Florida broken when Stephen Weiss netted in the second.

"Awesome game, great game, definitely the best player on our team, no doubt about it," Kane said about his goalie. "I don't know why we played like that tonight, but Crawford stood tall. That's why he's proved time and time again that he should be in there."

Kane ended the game when he deked to his backhand and slipped the puck between Markstrom's legs.

His tally came after Markstrom foiled Jonathan Toews and Dave Bolland. Crawford's saved from Tomas Kopecky, Marcel Goc and Tomas Fleischmann.

Kane said he learned an important lesson while watching the early rounds of the shootout.

"Johnny went down, threw a fake and I just saw his 5-hole open up," Kane said. "Me and Bolley actually talked about it, I think he tried to go 5-hole, too. I just tried to sell the fake and get him to open his legs. He's a big goaltender and pretty good side-to-side. It paid off for me."

Toews and Marian Hossa scored in regulation for the Hawks (8-2-2), who played without injured defenseman Duncan Keith.

Kane also set up the goal by Hossa and was a threat all night.

"I just got a text message from (former NHL player) Bobby Holik and he said that Patrick Kane is the best street hockey player on skates," Hossa said. "I started laughing. He just seems easy, going through the people and making fakes. He just made a great play and he's just having fun and it's great to see."

Stephen Weiss and Ed Jovanovski scored for the Panthers (6-4-2), while Markstrom stopped 31 shots.

"I think we had a little too much respect for them out there, giving them space," said Panthers coach Kevin Dineen. "And when you do that, with that team they look pretty good."

Three members of the Hawks' 2009-10 Stanley Cup-winning team — Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg and Kopecky — faced their former team for the first time as members of the Panthers.

The Panthers lost in a shootout at home for the second consecutive game. Winnipeg won 4-3 on Monday night.

Jovanovski tied the game with 2:04 left in the third when he tipped in Dmitry Kulikov's wrist shot from the right point.

"I was down there already, just wanted to get in front of the net and got a stick on it," Jovanovski said. "We showed resolve. That's always a good sign. Any time you spot a very good team two goals, it's tough. To climb back into it, we found a way, forced overtime. It was a good point for us."

Toews opened the scoring 4:04 into the first period after Florida turned the puck over in its own zone. Andrew Brunette took the errant puck and passed across the crease to Toews, who tapped it in.

The goal was confirmed after video review determined the puck did not carom off Toews' skate.

Hossa added to the lead at 4:51 of the second period when he one- timed Kane's pass to Markstrom's left.

The goal was Hossa's 31st against the Panthers in 48 career games,the second-most ever for a Florida opponent behind Ilya Kovalchuk's 32.

"It could be the air here," Hossa joked. "I don't know, but whatever it is, too bad we don't play more games here."

Weiss got Florida to within one goal when he scored at 18:19 of the second off a fortuitous bounce. Versteeg fed Weiss in the slot on a rush, but the puck slid off Weiss' stick toward the net. It bounced off the skate of defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson right in front of the net.

With Crawford out of position, Weiss was there to put the puck into an empty net.

Fleischmann had an assist on Weiss' goal, extending his point streak to six games – he has four goals and four assists over that span.

The game marked the start of a stretch of 10 out of 13 on the road for the Blackhawks, who play Friday night at Tampa Bay.

The team has dubbed the Florida road swing its annual father-son trip.

The Hawks fathers, who watched their sons go 0-1-1 on their last trip two seasons ago, got to watch an entertaining game and a victory.

"The most important thing is we got the two points," Kane said. "I don't think we played the way we wanted to, but I think a lot of good things happened. We didn't get rattled when it got 2-2 and found a way to get two points in the shootout again. It was a good start to the father's trip. It was nice to get a win for them."
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