NHL Game Summary - Chicago at Florida
(Thursday, February 19th)
Final Score: Chicago 4, Florida 0
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Cristobal Huet posted his third shutout this season with 31 saves and Ben Eager scored twice to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-0 triumph over a suddenly dangerous Florida Panthers club.
Andrew Ladd and Jonathan Toews added scores for Chicago, which was making its first visit to the BankAtlantic Center in over three years. The playoff-minded Hawks logged a third consecutive win and have lost only twice over the last nine games.
"When we play the right way and we're skating -- skating's a big thing -- we're tough to play against," said Ladd.
Chicago, which stands second in the Central with 74 points, has made just one playoff appearance over the last 10 seasons, with that trip coming back in 2001-02.
It was the 20th career shutout for the six-year veteran Huet, who stands to see the majority of time in net going forward with Nikolai Khabibulin on injured reserve battling a groin injury.
Tomas Vokoun allowed three goals on 41 shots to take the loss, only Florida's third in the last nine games.
"We didn't play good today. We shouldn't be surprised we didn't pick up points. They outplayed us in almost every aspect of the game," said Vokoun. "We've been doing that to other teams and that's why we've been winning."
While Florida is not perched in as good a standing as Chicago, the Panthers latest string of inspired play has the team angling for its first postseason berth since the 1999-00 campaign.
Chicago took an early 1-0 lead on the putback of a loose puck in front 3:07 into the game as an opportunistic Ladd banged home a feed by Martin Havlat from behind the net.
Huet stopped all 23 he saw over the first 40 minutes and the Blackhawks made it a 2-0 affair 8:32 into the third on Eager's ninth of the season. A slap shot by James Wisniewski from the right point was slowed considerably by a defending stick and Eager, who was camped down low, retrieved the disc, wheeled and fired to beat Vokoun on the far side.
As Huet continued to shut the door on Florida, an aggressive Peter DeBoer pulled Vokoun with a little over three minutes left but Toews had himself an empty-net goal shortly thereafter and Eager added a wrister inside the final minute for good measure.
Chicago ended a string of four straight winless performances against Florida...The Panthers had won the last two matchups in the series, with the teams battling to tie in the previous two encounters...The Panthers moved to 2-2-0 thus far on their five-game residency that concludes with a marquee matchup against Eastern Conference front-runner Boston on Saturday...Florida owns a solid 16-8-5 home record despite the loss, while Chicago upped its road mark to 18-11-3...The Hawks play at Dallas Saturday...Both Havlat and Wisniewski finished with two assists each.
02/19 23:44:37 ET