SUNRISE, Fla. – With his fellow Chicago netminder stuck on injured reserve, Cristobal Huet is making the most of his starts in goal for the Blackhawks.
Huet stopped 31 shots for his third shutout of the season, and Ben Eager scored twice in the Blackhawks’ 4-0 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. Andrew Ladd and Jonathan Toews also scored for Chicago.
“It was solid,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said on the victory. “All aspects of our game, we were pleased with. We didn’t get any production on our power play, but I still like the way we did it, (we) had good zone presence and a lot of quality chances as well. I was very happy with the contribution across the board.”
Huet made his fourth straight start since Nikolai Khabibulin sustained a lower-body injury. Khabibulin was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.
Huet has four shutouts in 10 career games against the Panthers.
“It’s nice to have a little bit of a roll,” Huet said. “I’ve got no complaints. It’s nice to get some games under your belt and build on correct what you did last game.”
Huet’s best save of the night came in the third period, when he stuck out his leg to stop Nathan Horton in front of the net.
Chicago also was without top goal scorer Patrick Sharp, who also was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.
The Blackhawks, who were playing away from home for the 10th time in 11 games, have won their last three and eight of 11 since the all-star break. They have 18 road victories, one more than all of last season.
“We knew it was going to be a rough month,” Ladd said. “It made this road trip a lot better when you’re winning. I think we’re a pretty confident group right now. We’ve just got to make sure we take care of ourselves.”
Chicago was playing in South Florida for the first time since a 4-3 overtime loss on Dec. 3, 2005.
The Panthers, who haven’t won a playoff series since 1996 or a playoff game since 1997, lost in regulation for only the fifth time in 21 games since Jan. 1.
“I think we got the deserved result tonight,” Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. “I think they were the better team and that’s a team that we have to bring our A plus game against or they expose you, and they did tonight.”
Tomas Vokoun stopped 38 shots for the Panthers. Vokoun was coming off a shutout himself, his fifth of the season. Florida beat New Jersey 4-0 on Tuesday night.
“Obviously, you’re going to play only good teams from now on,” Vokoun said. “If you want to make playoffs, you’ve got to beat good teams too. So I don’t care how good they are, I think we could have played better – all of us. And we just didn’t.”
Ladd’s 10th goal of the season put Chicago up 1-0 at 3:07 in the first period. Positioned near the crease, Ladd was able to take three stabs at a rebound before the fourth went by Vokoun on his stick side.
“We had a lot of pressure,” Ladd said. “It seemed we kind of had them running around a bit. Luckily enough, I was able to get three whacks at it, the last one slipped through.”
Eager gave Chicago a 2-0 lead at 8:32 in the third period. Toews added an empty-netter at 16:10 in the third period and Eager beat Vokoun with a wrist shot in the final minute.
Notes: The Blackhawks are 18-3-3 when leading after one period … Chicago will open the 2009-10 regular season against Florida in Helsinki in October. … The Panthers will close a five-game homestand Saturday night against Boston.