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Blackhawks rally past Toronto for shootout win

Joel Quenneville spoke warily about a couple things before Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

One issue was the youth and talent of the Leafs. With a young core built around Auston Matthews, Toronto looks like an emerging team that’s trying to emulate what the young Blackhawks did years ago when they were in a similar stage of their rebuild. The other issue was the Hawks’ penalty kill, which was unfathomably poor entering Saturday’s game.

Both issues did hurt the Hawks against the Leafs, but they also found a way to rally before winning 5-4 in a shootout. Artemi Panarin scored the winner in the final round.

“It wasn’t pretty for a while there,” Jonathan Toews said.

Scott Darling stops a shot during Saturday's game. | Associated Press

The Hawks trailed 4-2 late in the third but Artem Anisimov scored his second of the night at the 17:32 mark when Brian Campbell shot off Frederik Andersen’s pads and Anisimov jammed in the rebound. With an empty net, Richard Panik then tied the game with 1:28 remaining.

That late rally helped the Hawks overcome a two-goal deficit that was created in part by their special teams. The Hawks ended up 0 for 5 with an advantage and their penalty kill allowed its eighth goal of the season. But that same penalty kill was also successful late in the third, helping to set up the rally.

Quenneville, however, wasn’t ready to deem the PK fixed after one successful pair of minutes.

“It’s one. We need several, several, several to get excited,” Quenneville said. “But certainly it was, we’ll say timely.”

Before the game, all Quenneville wanted was for the Hawks’ beleaguered penalty kill to take baby steps. He wanted the PK to get through its first rotations, deny entries and clog up the shooting lanes.

Nothing groundbreaking, nothing too complicated. But even that was too much to ask on the Leafs’ second goal, continuing some surprising problems.

“Whether it’s surprised, disappointed, the stat’s pretty amazing in a negative fashion,” Quenneville said. “We’ve got a lot of time to repair it and let’s look at the baby steps in trying to get through one tonight and go from there.”

William Nylander’s power-play goal with 10:32 remaining in the second after a slick cross-ice pass from Matthews gave Toronto a 2-1 lead. It also dropped the Hawks’ penalty kill to an almost-unthinkable 8 of 20 (40 percent) on the season, before the late kill.

“We can’t say much about our PK right now,” Quenneville said before the game. “It’s definitely been a sore spot. It’s almost like let’s look at it as a fresh beginning and just look at trying to get through one kill.”

They did that late, and it set up a dramatic victory.

“I think it showed the character in the room,” Panik said. “I think we had it and when we were down 4-2 we came back. Everybody’s feeling pretty good.”

Despite some of the struggles, the Hawks have won three of four and showed some resiliency after looking like they were in trouble for about 55 minutes.

“We just hung in there. There was another big goal by (Anisimov) and I guess the usual suspects you could say with (Panik) cashing in for a big one to tie it up,” Toews said.

Scott Darling made 30 saves. Toews also scored in the shootout.

Follow me on Twitter @BrianSandalow