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.
“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.”
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.
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