Spencer Knight won his third straight game for the Florida Panthers when he made 24 saves in a 4-3 overtime victory against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center in Chicago on Thursday.
The 20-year-old goalie made nine saves in relief when Florida rallied for a 7-4 win at the Nashville Predators on Tuesday and made 33 saves in his NHL debut, a 5-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 20.
“It’s kind of just hockey, you know what I mean?” Knight said. “Obviously it’s the NHL and everyone is really, really good. But I think for me my approach has always been the same, whether I’m playing at [Boston College] or here or whatever I might be in the future. It’s all going to be pretty much the same. I’m just going to try and have fun and make some saves hopefully.”
Sam Bennett scored with 52 seconds remaining in overtime for the Panthers (33-14-5), who have won three of four.
Alex DeBrincat tied it with 18 seconds left in the third period for the Blackhawks (22-22-6), who have lost four of five. Kevin Lankinen made 35 saves.
“We’re fighting for our lives right now and to not get two points, it [stinks],” Chicago forward Kirby Dach said. “We have to find a way to get two points. I mean, it’s nice to get one point and kind of claw back a little bit, but we have to find a way to get two almost every night here to give ourselves a chance.”
Florida is second in the eight-team Discover Central Division, one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning and two behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes. Chicago is sixth and trails fourth-place Nashville by six points for the last of the four division berths into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Bennett won it when he skated with the puck into the Blackhawks zone and scored with a wrist shot from the left circle.
“Yeah, I came off the ice and got a pass from [MacKenzie Weegar] there and then skated up on the left side and saw a little spot,” Bennett said. “I aimed for it and it went in, so it feels really good.”
DeBrincat tied it for the Blackhawks when he one-timed a cross-ice feed from Patrick Kane.
Brandon Montour gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead at 9:09 of the third period when he took a pass from the right circle from Alex Wennberg into the slot.
Adam Gaudette scored on a rebound to give Chicago a 1-0 lead at 13:47 of the first period. It was his first goal since being traded to the Blackhawks by the Vancouver Canucks on April 12.
Wennberg tied it 1-1 at 7:47 of the second period on a redirection of a shot by Weegar for a power-play goal.
“We were definitely back to doing what we need to do when we play with puck support and speed and active [defensemen],” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “We got up the ice a lot better, and all of the sudden we got some zone time. I think that was the difference. We didn’t have much pace in the first.”
Vinnie Hinostroza scored on a 2-on-1 with Brandon Hagel to give Chicago a 2-1 lead at 10:09 of the second. Anthony Duclair tied it 2-2 on a rebound in front at 13:09.
“Yeah, obviously pretty much all of our games we’ve had some good and we’ve some bad spurts,” Hinostroza said. “I think it just comes down to putting a full 60 minutes together. If we do that, we’re harder to play against, we’re harder to beat.
“But once again, we never gave up. We had some great opportunities in the third, great opportunities in overtime. It’s a step in the right direction, but we’d like to get two points there.”
NOTES: Panthers forward Patric Hornqvist missed his third game because of an upper-body injury. … Florida forward Grigori Denisenko scored his first NHL point with an assist on Duclair’s goal. … Hinostroza has scored 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his past 11 games.