The Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks will wrap up their two-game series at the United Center on Thursday night. The Blackhawks were on the winning side of the first meeting. They took a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission, and the Panthers weren’t able to complete the comeback in the third period. Down 3-1 in the final frame, the Panthers cut the lead to a goal, but that’s as close as the Panthers were able to get. Despite the loss, they’ve been enjoying plenty of success this season in the Central Division with a record of 20-8-4 and 44 points.
They’re unfortunately stuck in a competitive division, with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes both ahead of the Panthers by a point and six points. It’s going to be tough to track down the top seed in the Central, but if the Panthers can’t be disappointed with where they’re at right now. They’ve hit a bit of a rough patch the last two games, though. Florida is losers in their last two outings by a score of 5-3 against the Lightning and the 3-2 loss most recently against the Blackhawks.
Following back-to-back wins against the Blackhawks at home on March 13 and March 15, the Panthers have wins in one of their previous four tilts. Chris Driedger was adequate between the pipes for the Panthers against the Blackhawks on Tuesday night. He stopped 29 of 32 shots for a 0.906 save percentage. If the Panthers really want to become a serious contender, Sergei Bobrovsky has to pull up his sleeves and begin to play like an elite goaltender. His paycheck has not matched his product as a Panther in Sunrise.
The Blackhawks head into this contest with a record of 15-13-5 and 35 points in the Central Division. It has been the Lightning, Hurricanes, Panthers, and then everyone else this season. The Stars and Predators have both been a major disappointment, while the Red Wings are playing as expected at the bottom of the division. Bobrovsky is listed as the confirmed starter for the Panthers, while Kevin Lankinen is expected to get the nod for the Blackhawks. Head below for our free Panthers vs. Blackhawks pick on March 25, 2021.
Florida Panthers vs. Chicago Blackhawks NHL Betting Odds:
Panthers vs. Blackhawks Prediction:
The Panthers have had one of the most consistent offences in the NHL this season. They put a lot of shots on net, and are one of the best teams at hitting their target. The Panthers have netted 34.7 shots per game for second in the league. It’s translated to an average of 3.3 goals per contest for seventh. They didn’t have the most success offensively against the Blackhawks on Tuesday, but that could easily change this evening.
That was the first game in five outings that the Panthers failed to score more than 2 goals. Prior to that contest, the Panthers scored an average of 5 goals per game in four outings against the Blackhawks. At least 4 goals were scored against the Blackhawks in every game, which dates back to January 17, 2021. A trip to Chicago wasn’t necessarily the reason for the Panthers failing to get their offence on track Tuesday.
Note that the Panthers are one of the most dangerous teams on the road when it comes to offensive hockey. They’ve scored an average of 3.73 goals per game as a visitor this season. I don’t foresee Kevin Lankinen with another 33-save performance tonight. The Blackhawks are 24th in the league with 3.2 goals conceded per game. In their previous ten outings, they’ve been railed for 4 goals against per game.
The win over the Panthers was the first time in five attempts that they held an opponent to fewer than 4 goals. Lankinen will look for another strong performance, but expect him to regress somewhat. The 25-year-old native of Finland owns a 2.83 GAA and 0.915 save percentage on the season. Despite that start against the Panthers, Lankinen has a 3.75 GAA and 0.88 save percentage through four starts versus Florida. I’m backing the Panthers in a bounce-back spot on Thursday night.