Getty

Blackhawks best Panthers in first game for Florida’s new coach

10 Comments

CHICAGO (AP) Richard Panik raised his stick in the air with his left hand as he skated away from a defeated Roberto Luongo.

At long last, his slump was over.

Panik scored in regulation and then had the deciding goal in a shootout, helping the Chicago Blackhawks beat Florida 2-1 on Tuesday night in the Panthers’ first game since Tom Rowe took over as interim coach.

Artemi Panarin also scored in the tiebreaker and Corey Crawford matched a season high with 38 saves in Chicago’s first home game in 16 days. The Blackhawks went 3-3-1 on their annual circus trip.

“That was a long trip. We were excited to come back home,” Crawford said.

Panarin beat Luongo with a slick backhand in the second round. After Aleksander Barkov was stopped by Crawford at the other end, Panik converted his chance with a well-placed wrist shot past Luongo on the glove side.

“I’m really grateful for Corey being behind us,” Panarin said through a translator. “If it weren’t for him, the last couple games would have turned out differently. We’re lucky to have him.”

Florida (11-10-2) returned to the ice for the first time since coach Gerard Gallant was fired after a 3-2 loss at Carolina on Sunday night. Jaromir Jagr scored in the third period and Luongo made 32 saves, but the Panthers lost for the third time in four games.

“We got back to getting pucks to the net, getting 39 shots against a heck of a hockey club,” said Rowe, who was serving as Florida’s general manager at the time of the coaching change. “So a lot of positives and a lot to build on after tonight.”

Chicago (15-6-3) played without captain Jonathan Toews, who missed his third consecutive game with an upper-body injury. Fellow center Artem Anisimov left in the third after teammate Duncan Keith‘s shot went off the inside of his lower right leg.

“We’ll see how he is. He seemed to be OK,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ll know more tomorrow.”

The Blackhawks carried a 1-0 lead into the third, but the Panthers made the most of 69 seconds of leftover power-play time from Niklas Hjalmarsson‘s second-period hooking penalty. Jonathan Marchessault‘s centering pass went off Keith, and Jagr poked it in for his fourth of the season and No. 753 for his career.

Florida had a chance to grab the lead when Crawford lost his stick after he was tripped by teammate Vinnie Hinostroza. But the goalie slid over in time to stop a shot from Derek MacKenzie and then fell on the puck after it went off the post.

Crawford also made a nice right pad save on Mark Pysyk with 8:09 to go, and stopped Jagr in front in the final minute.

“I thought Jagr was unreal,” Rowe said. “In this building with the speed they come at you with, and Jags was really unbelievable down low.”

Florida had 100 seconds of power-play time in overtime, but Chicago killed it off. Luongo turned away two nice moves by Patrick Kane, and Crawford stopped Aaron Ekblad in the final seconds of OT.

It was a really nice night for each goaltender, right from the start.

Luongo got over to stop Panarin, and Crawford made a great pad save on Barkov before the Blackhawks jumped in front in the first. Panik got loose for a breakaway and slipped a backhand by Luongo for his seventh goal with 2:10 left in the period.

It was Panik’s first goal since Oct. 22, stopping a 17-game drought. The winger had no points and a minus-2 rating in his previous 13 games.

“(Dennis) Rasmussen flipped it over and the D-man touched it,” Panik said. “So I had a breakaway and a nice score. A goal helps you with your confidence.”

The Panthers and Blackhawks each killed off a penalty during a scoreless second. Crawford also made a flashy glove save on a big drive by Keith Yandle, and Luongo stopped a long shot by Gustav Forsling.

NOTES: Jagr played in his 1,652nd game, passing Chris Chelios and moving into a tie with Mark Recchi for fourth on the NHL’s career list. … Toews did not participate in the morning skate, and Quenneville said he is questionable for Thursday night’s game against New Jersey. … Chicago D Brian Campbell played his first game against Florida since he left the Panthers for a one-year deal with the Blackhawks during free agency.

UP NEXT

Panthers: Visit the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.

Blackhawks: Host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

Getty
Leave a comment

The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

Getty
Leave a comment

Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

Getty
10 Comments

Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

Getty
Leave a comment

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.