Sad start but happy end­ing

Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday) - - SPORTS - BY STEVE GREEN­BERG, STAFF RE­PORTER sgreen­[email protected]­times.com @SLGreen­berg

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?

Jok­i­harju back

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.

JOE SKIP­PER/AP

Black­hawks de­fense­man Bran­don Man­ning dukes it out with for­mer Hawk Troy Brouwer in the first pe­riod.

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