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Blackhawks 3, Panthers 1: Kane, Toews, Keith light the lamp

Chicago Blackhawks Vs FloridPanthers 1 St-Period Action. Blackhawks No.88 Patrick Kane is taken down by FloridPanthers No.32 Kris Versteeg while

Chicago Blackhawks Vs Florida Panthers 1 St-Period Action. Blackhawks No.88 Patrick Kane is taken down by Florida Panthers No.32 Kris Versteeg while teammate No.52 Jason Garrison heads up ice. January 20Th, 2012 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 22, 2012 8:08AM



Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane so rarely need extra motivation.

But with several former teammates returning to the United Center for the first time as visitors and Kane looking to break out of lengthy and uncharacteristic slump, both had added incentive in a 3-1 victory Friday over the Florida Panthers.

Kane set up Toews for a breakaway goal in the first period before before Toews repaid the favor in the second, getting an assist when Kane fired a shot past Jose Theodore (19 saves) on a 2-on-1 in the second to snap a streak of seven games without a goal.

“A lot of guys have been producing around here. It was nice to come up for the team tonight and score a big one,” Kane said. “Anytime you can score after a slump with a lot of focus on it, it’s a good feeling.”

The win kept up the pressure on their divisional rivals in the ultra-competitive Central and vaulted the Hawks from fifth to first in the Western Conference with 64 points.

“It’s real crazy,” Kane said. “But the West has always been like that so it’s tough to put too much focus on where you stand at a given day.”

Ray Emery stopped 18 of 19 shots to win for the ninth time in his last 11 starts. The Hawks are now 5-0-1 since losing their first four games of the calendar year.

“We’re just trying to play hockey, get back to playing our game, play simple, play smart and do the right things,” said Brent Seabrook, who was a plus-1 with five hits in 25:57.

Duncan Keith scored his third goal of the season on the power play as the Hawks went 1-for-4 with the extra attacker. It was the first time Hawks had scored on the power play in back-to-back games Dec. 16 and 18, a span of 14 games.

“We’re encouraging [the defensemen] to get involved, and even off the points, they’ve been jumping in off the points, and having some cycle shifts with their activity off the blue lines, down low,” Joel Quenneville said. “[It’s] nice when we shot that puck on the power-play, because I thought we had a couple looks prior to that and didn’t shoot, and we got rewarded.”

Marian Hossa and Nick Leddy each assisted on Keith’s goal to extend their point streaks to seven games and four games respectively.

All five former Hawks received warm receptions from the United Center crowd, which turned out in force despite the heavy snow.

The loudest cheers for the visitors were reserved for Kris Versteeg and Brian Campbell, played pivotal roles on the the 2010 Stanley Cup championship team along with John Madden and Tomas Kopecky.

Kopecky was the only ex-Hawk to manage a point against his former teammates with a secondary assist on Jason Garrison’s power play goal.

The Panthers lost their eight consecutive road game and have only three wins in their last 13.

“Every team’s got to go through this,” Kopecky said. “I don’t want to make any excuses. We are the team right now. We’ve got a find a way, nobody’s going to do it for us. We’ve got to do it ourselves and that’s the bottom line.”

Campbell, who was dealt for Rostislav Olesz in a salary dump, entered the game second among defenseman in points (34) and tied for 6th in the NHL with 31 assists. He had four shots and was a minus-1 in 24:04.



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