Saturday, March 25, 2017

Marchessault Hat Trick Beats Blackhawks

     Jonathan Marchessault got his first career hat trick as the Florida Panthers completed a three-game homestand with a 7-0 shutout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at BB&T Center on Saturday night. The Panthers have won four of their last seven games. The Blackhawks, who have the best record in the Western Conference, entered the contest 6-0-1 in their last seven games.
      After no scoring in the first period, Florida(33-30-11) got on the scoreboard 17 seconds into the second on a 4-on-4 situation. Jonathan Huberdeau had the puck in the right circle and sent a cross-ice pass to Aleksander Barkov in the left circle. He placed a snap shot by Corey Crawford for his 21st goal of the season.
     The Panthers got numerous opportunities on the power play midway through the frame and scored on a 5-on-3 man advantage at the 10:21 mark. Barkov was in the top slot and fed Huberdeau for a slap shot from the right circle.
     Florida converted on another power-play tally against Chicago(48-21-6) at 11:40 for a three-goal margin. Barkov was in the right circle and zipped a pass to Jonathan Marchessault in the left circle. He fired home a slap shot for his team-high 26th goal of the season.        
     The Cats continued their momentum early in the third period as they made it 4-0 at 4:59. Colton Sceviour skated down the right wing and connected a cross-ice pass to Marchessault who then scored on a one-time slap shot from the left circle for his second goal of the contest. The Blackhawks replaced Crawford in net with Scott Darling.
     Marchessault completed a natural hat trick at the 7:13 mark. He performed a give-and-go pass with Huberdeau in the slot area before he scored from close range, Nick Bjugstad added another tally just 40 seconds later when he redirected a Sceviour shot from the blue line.
     The Panthers increased their margin to 7-0 with 8:15 left in the third. Vincent Trocheck hit the right post on a snap shot from the left circle. Reilly Smith then followed up and scored on the rebound.

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