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Game 4: Hawks 4, Cats 5

January 20, 2021, 4:11 AM ET [267 Comments]
Theo Fox
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Blackhawks kept the pattern alive giving up 5 goals in a one-goal loss to the Panthers to go 0-for-Florida in the NHL's first week of the regular season.

Playing a refreshingly conservative style, Kevin Lankinen made his NHL debut and was generally on point whenever he wasn't left out to dry by his defense.

Dominik Kubalik lit it up offensively, Philipp Kurashev got his first career NHL goal, Ian Mitchell continued to shine, and Adam Boqvist showed improvement.

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Starting Lineup

The starting lineup for Tuesday's game saw Brandon Hagel rotate in for Matthew Highmore and Lankinen hopped on the goalie carousel for his turn in net:

In this fourth game of the year, the starters for the opening shift were different for the first time with Connor Murphy being the only constant:

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Game Recap

1st Goal: Verhaeghe (0-1)

The misplay on the Panthers breakout was on Calvin de Haan who failed to pick up a cherry-picking Carter Verhaeghe. de Haan was flat footed and got burned at center ice.

Ian Mitchell was below the defensive blueline first defending against Anthony Duclair then should have taken Aleksander Barkov who made the pass to spring Verhaeghe.

2nd Goal: Hornqvist (0-2)

Murphy did absolutely nothing to cover and defend against a player like Patric Hornqvist who has made a living and been a Hawks killer scoring garbage goals from the slot.

It was unacceptable for Murphy to give Hornqvist so much respect in front of Lankinen. Hornqvist had time and space to recover and convert a rebound off of Keith Yandle's shot.

3rd Goal: Kubalik (1-2)

Goal scorers like Kubalik hammer away with blistering shots until the puck finds the back of the net. Kubalik got three consecutive shot attempts from above the circles.

Third time was a charm for Kubalik as his one timer glanced off of Riley Stillman's glove to redirect the puck and knuckleball it downward past Sergei Bobrovsky.

4th Goal: Verhaeghe (1-3)

Duncan Keith and Murphy go after the same Panthers forward Duclair behind the net leaving Verhaeghe by himself for an easy tap in past Lankinen who couldn't locate the puck.

5th Goal: Kubalik (2-3)

Again, Kubalik puts on display what goal scorers do: he wasted no time to unleash a rocket after Lucas Wallmark won the draw and Keith teed Kubalik up perfectly for the one timer.

6th Goal: Kane (3-3)

Patrick Kane does it like no other skating the puck from his own end from above the left circle and takes it to the net scoring on his patented backhander with Stillman in tow.

7th Goal: Kurashev (4-3)

Is the seal broken for Kurashev now that he pots his first-ever NHL goal? His skill was on display on this drive with his quickness, deceptive puck carrying, and underrated shot.

8th Goal: Hornqvist (4-4)

Like on his first goal of the game, Hornqvist was allowed to park in the slot uncontested this time eclipsing Lankinen with Keith giving the winger too much space to deflect Yandle's shot.

9th Goal: Vatrano (4-5)

Pius Suter and Andrew Shaw had MacKenzie Weegar and Barkov covered yet Keith watched the puck and never once looked at his man Frank Vatrano who one timed the OT-GWG for the Cats.

Penalty Shot: Kane (no goal)

Late in the 2nd period, Kane was awarded a penalty shot but wasn't able to convert. Regardless, his strategy seemed sound by changing up his speed to try fooling Bobrovsky and go five hole.

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Game Notes

OT Starters

After Kane immediately exited the ice once the Panthers won the faceoff to begin overtime, starting the extra frame with three defensive players was a frustrating head scratcher.

Overtime isn't really the time to play like your team is on the penalty kill or needing to hold a lead in the final minute of regulation. Why not get your best players on the ice?

Adam Boqvist

Yes, Boqvist still has a steep learning curve to get through but last night was by far his best game this season showing marked improvement especially in his own zone.

Boqvist was physical and battled to neutralize offensive drives and win back pucks. Also, he stayed home to protect his net and was more steady carrying the mail.

Ian Mitchell

How good is Mitchell? In short order, he has arguably cemented his spot as the best defenseman on the team with his superb gap management and defensive support of teammates.

In due time, Mitchell's offensive game will catch up and isn't a worry at this point. His passes are tape to tape which is aided by sharp vision. Power play duty should be in his future.

Duncan Keith

Have the mighty fallen? Just as quickly as Mitchell's star is rising, Keith's stock is plummeting becoming arguably the worst defenseman on the team.

And do Keith and Murphy have magnets under their pads? When one goes to the corner or behind the net, the other is sure to follow leaving the net unprotected.

Nikita Zadorov

There's a lot to like and a lot to dislike about defensive defenseman Nikita Zadorov. On the one hand, his mean streak and hard hitting can be fun to watch.

On the other hand, however, Zadorov wanders too much in the defensive zone often abandoning his post by vacating the front of the net to go into a board scrum.

Dominik Kubalik

As mentioned in yesterday's player capsules, Kubalik is a volume shooter and a volume scorer. Once he broke the seal with his first goal, the dam will start to break.

Break it did as Kubalik netted a pair and was a man possessed on several of his shifts even creating chances for his linemates. He and Kurashev seem to work well together.

Alex DeBrincat

One thing that stands out with DeBrincat so far this young season is his hustle. He gives effort on most shifts to chase after pucks and get back to help on defense.

Additionally, he is getting more creative with his playmaking to find teammates yet could still exhibit better decision making at times when it comes to shooting versus passing.

Andrew Shaw

Big ups again to Shaw for epitomizing what it means to give your all every shift. He was a little wrecking ball of hate throwing his body around and getting under the opponent's skin.

Here's to continued good health for Shaw so he can remain a leader and role model for the rebuilding Hawks squad while being a persistent thorn in the side of the opposition.

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See you on the boards!

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