EKBLAD RETURNS TO HELP PANTHERS BLANK CHICAGO
sunrise, fla.» Aaron Ekblad came back, and the Panthers made an emphatic return to their winning ways.
Against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, no less.
Roberto Luongo stopped 27 shots for his fourth shutout of the season, Ekblad scored in his first game back after recovering from a concussion and the Panthers easily handled the Blackhawks 4-0 on Friday night to snap a four-game slide.
Florida had lost its last eight meetings with Chicago, last beating the Blackhawks on March 8, 2011. Chicago outscored Florida 25-11 in those games.
Reilly Smith, Quinton Howden and former Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell also scored for Florida, which took a 3-0 lead after one period and started a big weekend in a big way.
The Panthers play rival Tampa Bay — the reigning Eastern Conference champions — at home Saturday.
Travis Hamonic and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist in the third period as the Islanders defeated the Senators 5-2. Hamonic beat Andrew Hammond with a slap shot at 2:58 of the third to give New York a 3-2 lead and Tavares slipped a backhand past Hammond at 7:03 for some insurance. Kyle Okposo scored on a bank shot off the backside of Ottawa defenseman Jared Cowen to finish the scoring. … All-star rookie Dylan Larkin had a goal and an assist and Petr Mrazek stopped 19 shots to lead the Red Wings to a 3-0 victory over the Sabres. Henrik Zetterberg and Luke Glendening also scored for the Red Wings, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Larkin scored the winner with 7:59 remaining in the game, circling from behind the net to collect the rebound off a Glendening shot and banking the puck off the pads of Robin Lehner. … J.T. Miller scored twice in the second period and Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves, leading the Rangers to a 4-1 win over the Hurricanes. Ryan McDonagh scored to stretch his scoring streak to four games, and Keith Yandle also had a goal for New York. Joakim Nordstrom scored for Carolina, and Eddie Lack made 28 saves. New York has won 14 of its past 15 meetings with Carolina. The game was played before a tiny crowd — many in Rangers jerseys — due in part to several inches of wet snow that began falling in the afternoon. The Associated Press