Sad start but happy ending
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Blackhawks couldn’t do it again, could they?
No — not quite.
After allowing first-minute goals in losses to the Capitals and Lightning to start this road trip, the Hawks lasted all of 5:48 Saturday before falling behind the Panthers 1-0. Progress, right?
This time, it was Mike Hoffman beating goalie Cam Ward with a blast from the right circle on the game’s first power play. It came after a holding penalty on struggling defenseman Brandon Manning, who probably should’ve known better considering the Panthers came in having converted on a blistering 38.2 percent of their power-play chances in the previous 10 games.
Jared McCann made it 2-0 in the first period after three Hawks — Henri Jokiharju, Gustav Forsling and John Hayden
— converged on the Panthers’ Colton Sceviour along the side boards, leaving McCann wideopen for an easy pass.
Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton was hoping for better.
“Our starts have let us down the last two nights,” he said before the game. “I think we showed some character to battle back both nights, but ultimately we want to find a way to get points. At first, whatever it is — five, 10, 20 minutes — if we can start on time, I think [with] the overall effort, we can give ourselves a chance to win.”
The Hawks eventually did prevail, beating Florida 5-4 in OT.
Drop the gloves
A real knuckle-banger of a fight between Manning and ex-Hawk Troy Brouwer ratcheted up the intensity in the first period. Manning threw the first several shots, but Brouwer answered with three straight rights that found their target. The last one flattened Manning, with Brouwer crashing down on top of him.
Brouwer was a 22-goal scorer with the 2010 Stanley Cup-winning Hawks. Hate to ask, but wonder whom Hawks fans were rooting for in this particular scrap?
A night after his first healthy scratch in the NHL, Jokiharju, 19, was back in the lineup. Colliton explained what he was looking for:
“Just a little bit more active as far as defending the lines, and gap and stick presence and all that defensive stuff that allows you to have the puck more, allows your team to have the puck more. And he’ll find himself on the offensive blue line with possession more. We know he can help us there.”
Surgery for Davidson
Defenseman Brandon Davidson, who missed his sixth consecutive game, will have surgery on his right knee Tuesday, two weeks after he was knocked out of an OT loss at Carolina. There’s no timetable for his return.
The eventual return of Connor Murphy (back) will bolster the defense. Murphy, who hasn’t played this season, has been skating on his own but not practicing with the team.
Blackhawks defenseman Brandon Manning dukes it out with former Hawk Troy Brouwer in the first period.