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5 Takeaways: Panthers Get Point, Fall to Hawks in OT

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

12/12/17 Post Game Interviews

12/12/17 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Bob Boughner, Nick Bjugstad, James Reimer and Jamie McGinn

  • 01:30 •

The Florida Panthers came close, but couldn't close out the Blackhawks in Chicago.

After Jonathan Toews tied the game late in the third period, Patrick Kane scored the game-winning goal 2:24 into overtime, beating goaltender James Reimer on a breakaway to lift the Blackhawks to a 3-2 victory over the Panthers on Tuesday night.

"I thought we played good the majority of the game," forward Nick Bjugstad said. "The penalty kill was awesome. James Reimer was awesome. Back-to-back games, that's tough to do as a goalie. It's definitely reassuring having him in the net. We'd like to have two points, but we gave it all we got."

In his second game in as many nights, Reimer was once again sensational in net, stopping 25 of 28 shots to help the Panthers earn a much-needed point in the standings. Last night in Detroit, Reimer made 34 saves to earn the victory. 

Video: FLA@CHI: Reimer turns away Schmaltz from in close

Florida is 5-3-3 in its last 11 games. Following a 3-8-0 start away from home, the Panthers have begun to hit their stride, going 3-0-2 in their last five road games.

"I don't think you can be satisfied when you don't win the game," forward Jamie McGinn said. We played well enough to win, but didn't come away with two points. I thought we had our legs and did a lot of good things out there. It's disappointing we didn't win, but we'll take the positives: three out of four points on this road trip."

Here are five takeaways from Tuesday's win in Chicago…

1. BACK FROM THE DAD

Evgenii Dadonov, who was expected to miss four-to-six weeks with an upper-body injury, returned to the Panthers lineup just over two weeks into his initial recovery timetable. Dadonov had sat out the last seven games after being injured on Nov. 25 in a game against Chicago at the BB&T Center. In his return, the 28-year-old didn't make an immediate return to his former spot on Florida's top line, instead joining Vincent Trocheck and Denis Malgin (later McGinn) on the second line. He recorded no shots in 16:38 in his first game back. "At some point I'm sure Dadonov is going to be back on that big line," coach Bob Boughner said. In 22 games prior being injured, Dadonov recorded 18 points (7-11-18).

2. BJUGY'S BREAKAWAY

A fan of the forehand, Nick Bjugstad changed up his routine on Tuesday night. Trailing 1-0, Aleksander Barkov set up Bjugstad on breakaway with a beautiful, long pass from his own zone. After gaining control of the puck, Bjugstad skated towards the net, cut left, and beat Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford with an admittedly rare backhand goal. "I usually don't go backhand," Bjugstad said. "I haven't scored on that in a while." Recently promoted to Florida's top line, the 25-year-old forward has three goals and an assist over his last six games. 

Video: FLA@CHI: Barkov, Bjugstad team up for beautiful goal

3. CRAWFORD THE CAT KILLER

Crawford entered tonight's game boasting a 6-0-2 record with a 2.22 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in his past eight starts. Facing the Panthers at United Center, Crawford was also 3-0-0 with a 0.91 GAA, a .964 save percentage and one shutout in four games. On Tuesday, the Panthers fared better than they usually do, but the result was still the same. Even though they were able to keep up the pressure throughout the night, pelting the 32-year-old with 37 shots, Crawford still came out on top.

4. MALGIN EXITS EARLY

Malgin left Tuesday night's game after taking what appeared to be a high hit from Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphey. After starting the game on Florida's second line, the 20-year-old took just two shifts before being ruled out with an upper-body injury, finishing with 1:34 of ice time. After going goalless in his first five games to start the season, Malgin has four goals since being recalled from AHL affiliate Springfield on Nov. 27. He has four points in 14 games this season. There were no immediate updates on Malgin's status following the game.

5. VRBATA SCRATCHED

Dadonov's return wasn't the only lineup-related surprise for the Panthers. After recording just one point in his last 13 games, winger Radim Vrbata was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. The 36-year-old signed a one year deal with the Panthers this offseason and was expected to play in the team's top-six role after scoring 20 goals with Arizona in 2016-17. So far, that offensive production hasn't followed him from the desert to the beach, as Vrbata has notched just 11 points (3-8-11) in 25 games. His three goals all came in the same game, an Oct. 26 win over Anaheim. With Malgin suffering from an upper-body injury, there's a good chance that Vrbata could make his way back into the lineup on Thursday in Colorado.

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