The Blackhawks allowed 26 shots on goal in the third period, but Robin Lehner stood tall in net to secure the victory.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on Sunday for their third win in the last five games. Robin Lehner made an absurd 53 saves, while both Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each tallied three points.
Patrick Kane scored the first goal of the game in an action-packed first period when his pass attempt to Dylan Strome deflected off Cody Ceci and past Michael Hutchinson.
Rookie forward Kirby Dach scored his second NHL goal a couple of minutes later to double the Blackhawks lead. Dach was in the right place at the right time, as Calvin de Haan’s shot from the blue line bounced right to the 2019 No. 3 pick.
Patrick Kane found the back of the net for the second time in the first period just 10 seconds after Dach’s goal. Kane’s initial shot didn’t make it on net, but he corralled the loose puck and backhanded a shot past Hutchinson to make it 3-0 Blackhawks.
Despite holding a 3-0 lead, the Blackhawks were outshot 12-7 through the first 16 minutes of the game. William Nylander would finally get the Leafs on the board late in the first during a 4-on-4 situation. Auston Matthews won a faceoff against Jonathan Toews, and Nylander burned Duncan Keith and beat Lehner five-hole to make it 3-1.
The Blackhawks were able to regain their three-goal lead less than a minute later, as Alex DeBrincat made a beautiful pass cross-crease to find Jonathan Toews on a 4-on-3 powerplay.
Things settled down in the second period largely in part to the goaltending. Michael Hutchinson got off to a rough start for the Maple Leafs, but the 29-year-old netminder settled in and stopped all 15 shots in the middle frame. Robin Lehner made 16 saves in the period to keep the Blackhawks ahead 4-1.
The final 20 minutes were full of chaos due to the Blackhawks’ inability to close out the game. William Nylander scored his second goal at 2:27 of the third period thanks to a horrendous Erik Gustafsson turnover. Gustafsson has been better in recent games, but the Swedish defenseman struggled mightily on Sunday night. Gustafsson took a penalty for hooking later in the period that allowed the Leafs to draw one goal closer, as John Tavares tucked one top shelf past Lehner.
The Blackhawks were on their heels the entire third period, but they managed to take a 5-3 lead with less than four minutes to go as Jonathan Toews connected with Brandon Saad for his sixth goal of the season.
Andreas Johnsson cut the Blackhawks lead to one with 42 seconds to play, but Robin Lehner held tough in the final seconds to seal the victory. The Maple Leafs put 26 shots on goal in the third period, but it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback. With the win, the Blackhawks are now 6-7-4 through 17 games this season.
Five Takeaways From Sunday’s Game
- Patrick Kane extended his point streak to six games with a goal early in the first period. Kane’s recorded five goals and six assists over those six contests. Both he and Alex DeBrincat tallied three points in the opening frame vs. Toronto.
- Robin Lehner was the best player for the Blackhawks yet again. Lehner made a ridiculous 53 saves on the night, including 23 in the third period. The Blackhawks don’t win that game without Lehner in net.
- After going six consecutive games without recording a point, Jonathan Toews has two goals and four assists in his last six games. The Blackhawks captain has been playing well with Brandon Saad on his wing lately, and the two connected for another goal on Sunday night. Saad has three goals and an assist during his four-game point streak.
- Erik Gustafsson played arguably his worst game of the season vs. Toronto. Gustafsson had a terrible turnover that led to Nylander’s second goal and also took the penalty that resulted in Tavares’ power-play goal. Gustafsson was on the ice for 11 shots for and 25 against at 5-on-5, which is a 30.56 Corsi-For percentage. Slater Koekkoek could be back in the lineup for Gustafsson on Wednesday night vs. Vegas.
- Adam Boqvist was one of the more effective players for the Blackhawks vs. Toronto. The 19-year-old defenseman didn’t record any points, but he was +2 and finished with the team’s second-highest Corsi rating. Boqvist continues to impress and seems to grow more and more comfortable with each game.
The Blackhawks get a couple of days off before their next contest on Wednesday vs. the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas is currently tied for third in the Pacific Division with a 9-7-3 record through 19 games. The Blackhawks have struggled on the road this season (1-4-2) and will need to bring their best effort to come away with two points. The game is slated for 9:00 p.m. PST and is scheduled to be on NBCSN.
For more Blackhawks news and updates, follow the author (@JackBushman2) on Twitter. Make sure to check out the author’s podcast, Talkin’ Hawkey, which can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter (@TalkinHawkey).