After a disheartening road trip, the Blackhawks desperately needed the kind of night they enjoyed Tuesday.
Patrick Kane was honored on home ice for his 1,000th game earlier this month, Kevin Lankinen broke out of his slump with 33 saves and the Hawks ended their four-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Panthers.
“It was big for me, it was big for the team, and it was big for Kaner,” Lankinen said. “We wanted to have a good start for this homestand, come out strong, and we really did that.”
The Hawks showed improvement in several key areas. Their passes were much crisper, including on a two-on-one rush where Brandon Hagel fed Dominik Kubalik to open the scoring and a power-play cycle that led to Carl Soderberg extending the lead to 3-0.
Their response to adversity was better, too. After the Panthers cut the lead to 3-1 late in the second period, prompting flashbacks of other blown leads, the Hawks pinned Florida in its defensive zone with several consecutive strong shifts and regained control.
Lankinen was especially spectacular in the third period, making several highlight-reel stops — including a flailing leg raise to rob Aaron Ekblad that he later called, with a grin, “something else from the toolbox.”
The Panthers cut the deficit to 3-2 with 4:38 left, but could never tie it.
“We won the game in the first half,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We’d love to snuff them out and end the game, not allow them to get back in it...[but] we needed the win. We needed something good to happen to us. We probably deserved a bit better on the trip, but that doesn’t get you anywhere. We have to earn some momentum.”
Kane, whose infant son made his first public appearance for the ceremony, recorded two assists.
When jettisoning Marian Hossa’s contract to the Coyotes in 2018, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman elected to make the exchange more than a pure salary dump. As a result, the Hawks gave up a lot to get rid of Hossa’s cap hit but also got some assets back.
On Tuesday, that decision started paying dividends as prospect MacKenzie Entwistle, the Coyotes’ 2017 third-round pick, made his Hawks debut.
Entwistle, a sturdy 6-3 forward, played 6:03 with two shots on goal. He became the seventh Hawks rookie to debut in 2021.
“It’s just a taste for him,” Colliton said. “But he was solid. He skated well; his skating has really improved... He was trying to be physical and he made a couple nice plays on the breakout.”
Entwistle tallied 26 points in 56 AHL games last season. He dealt with a severe COVID-19 case earlier this season but found his groove again recently.
Janmark addresses rumors
Mattias Janmark’s name has frequently appeared in trade rumors ahead of the April 12 deadline.
The 28-year-old wing will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Hawks could charge a significant price — perhaps a second-round pick — for him on the trade market.
He said Monday he hasn’t been fazed by the rumors.
“I’m pretty used to it,” Janmark said. “I’ve been on one-year deals the last four years, so I’m trying not to think too much about it. You’re always aware that the deadline is coming up, but it’s out of your control. I signed a one-year deal to improve my value and set myself up for the future, whether that’s here or someone else.”