The Florida Panthers returned to the win column for the first time in five games with their 4-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.
Entering the game, Florida had lost four games in a row following its franchise record 12-game winning streak. That slide almost cost the Panthers its Atlantic Division lead, but this win keeps Florida atop for the time being. The Tampa Bay Lightning are in second place in the division, and are now three points back of the Panthers.
The first ten minutes of the game were quiet with both teams exchanging missed shots. That was until Reilly Smith put home his 14th goal of the season to put Florida up one. The goal which came at the 10:19 mark of the first period came with an assist from Jussi Jokinen.
About seven minutes later, Brian Campbell's third goal of the season doubled Florida's lead. That goal had assists credited to both Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau.
With the period about to come to an end, Quinton Howden made it a three-goal lead with his fifth score of the season. Howden's goal was unassisted and came with just three seconds remaining in the first period.
Joining in on the barrage of scoring was Aaron Ekblad at the 2:51 mark of the second period. Ekblad's tenth goal of the season put Florida up 4-0 and all but ended Chicago's chances. This was Ekblad's first action in 12 days and the team was 0-4 without him.
Florida will look to avenge last Sunday's loss when it takes on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday at BB&T Center.