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Rapid Reaction: Hawks 4, Panthers 0

CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Hawks 4-0 win on Wednesday.

How it happened: It took a little time but the Hawks grabbed control of the game in the second period and then really opened things up in the third. Brent Seabrook scored on a one-time blast late in the middle 20 minutes during a Hawks power play to break a scoreless duel. Early in the third, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and new linemate Viktor Stalberg worked a passing play which Stalberg finished for an insurance goal. Later, Seabrook and Duncan Keith earned assists on a Patrick Kane tally. Tomas Kopecky also scored in the third on another nice passing play. The Hawks defense has stepped up its game. Seabrook’s goal came on a Keith set-up and that duo helped hold Florida to minimal scoring chances and just 23 shots on net, including only 13 through the first two periods. Tomas Vokoun kept the game close early but his skaters in front of him couldn’t manage any offense, getting shutout for the second consecutive night.

What it means: It’s simply a win the Hawks had to have. The Panthers already have a victory against them and a second one would have been devastating considering the tough schedule the Hawks have to endure the final week of the season. The story of the last couple of wins has been Keith and Seabrook. They played, arguably, their best game as a combination on the season. They’re contributing consistently on both ends for seemingly the first time all year. The Hawks played another smart, efficient game, scoring both on the power play and even strength. Corey Crawford pitched his fourth shutout of the season as the Hawks hold keep a stranglehold on a playoff spot. The Hawks are 40-25-8.

Kruger debut: Marcus Kruger didn’t embarrass himself in his first NHL game after coming over from Sweden 24 hours earlier. Kruger didn’t play with the puck a lot but looked more comfortable as the game went along. He was responsible in his own end, playing a conservative style. He was on the ice for 11:37, registering 1 shot on goal.

What’s next: The Hawks have a couple days off before a showdown with the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. Both teams are fighting for playoff position in the Western Conference.