June 4, 2020

19° C, Sunny

Full Forecast

Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?


Advertise With Us

Perlini, Blackhawks hold off late charge by Maple Leafs for wild 5-4 win

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/3/2019 (448 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner (16) looks to control a pass as Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (50) covers his net during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner (16) looks to control a pass as Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (50) covers his net during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO - The Maple Leafs were encouraged by a chaotic comeback attempt that fell just short.

It was their first 40 minutes — and an especially disastrous opening period — where a number of uncomfortable questions remain.

Brendan Perlini had a goal and two assists as the Chicago Blackhawks jumped out to a big lead before fending off a furious Toronto rally for a 5-4 victory on Wednesday.

The Leafs trailed 4-0 after a shambolic first that featured horrendous giveaways coupled with galling miscues in the defensive zone, and 5-0 late in the second before they woke up and made the Blackhawks sweat.

"Pretty ugly," Toronto centre John Tavares said of his team's start. "When we had breakdowns we were obviously way too loose."

The Leafs had a built-in excuse in the immediate aftermath of Monday's listless 6-2 home loss to the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning — the players got just one day off following a three-game road trip through Western Canada — but only had themselves to blame against an opponent that started the night 20 points back in the NHL's overall standings.

"We just weren't ready to play again, came out flat-footed," Toronto centre Auston Matthews added. "They're hungry, they're fighting for a playoff spot.

"That first period was obviously unacceptable."

Brandon Saad, with a goal and an assist, Duncan Keith, Dominik Kahun and Alex DeBrincat also scored for Chicago (31-30-9). Dylan Strome added two assists for the Blackhawks, who have won four straight and crept within four points of the Arizona Coyotes for the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

Corey Crawford made 17 saves through two periods before leaving the game due to illness. Collin Delia turned aside 26-of-29 shots as part of a crazy third in relief.

"We played really well in the first period and most of the second," Chicago head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "As soon as they get one and certainly two, they get a little hope and the crowd gets going and they get some energy."

Matthews, Morgan Rielly and Andreas Johnsson each had a goal and an assist for Toronto (42-23-5) in a sloppy, uninspired performance through two periods that cost the club a chance to move within two points of the Boston Bruins in the battle between Atlantic Division rivals for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Tavares also scored for the Leafs, while William Nylander and Mitch Marner had two assists each as the Leafs directed 95 shots attempts towards Crawford and Delia — including 50 alone in the third.

Frederik Andersen allowed four goals on 14 shots in the first before getting pulled in favour of Garret Sparks, who finished with 24 saves.

Chicago went ahead 1-0 at 3:19 of the first when Keith's blast was deflected by Nylander, rattled around between Andersen's pads and just slid over the line.

The Blackhawks made it 2-0 at 12:55 when Perlini cut into the middle and whipped a knuckling shot on Andersen for his 12th, and fifth in the last four games.

Tavares then lost the puck at the offensive blue line, leading to a 2-on-1 break where Patrick Kane fed Kahun, who buried his 12th at 17:13.

Andersen received a Bronx cheer from the ornery Scotiabank Arena crowd on his next save, but was completely hung out to dry on Chicago's fourth of the period.

Leafs defencemen Ron Hainsey motioned for fourth line centre Frederik Gauthier to cover in front, but the message wasn't received, leaving Saad all alone to tuck his in 23rd as four Toronto skaters were caught puck-watching.

It marked the first time the Leafs have given up four goals in a period this season, and the first time it's happened in the opening 20 minutes of a home game since Dec. 23, 2008.

Andersen was replaced by Sparks to start the second, marking the first time in his career he's been pulled in consecutive games.

"We weren't very good," Toronto head coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't look after the puck good enough and compete at a high enough level."

Chicago made it 5-0 at of the second 12:32 when Leafs defenceman Nikita Zaitsev's indecision led to DeBrincat roofing his 38th.

Toronto, which beat Chicago at the United Center in a wild 7-6 overtime affair back in October, finally got on the board with 1:33 left in the period when Rielly had his shot deflected in by Johnsson for his 20th.

Playing the 200th game of his career, Matthews brought the Leafs a little closer at 7:57 of the third when he banked in his 32nd.

Rielly made it 5-3 on the power play with his 19th to raise the temperature at 10:55 before the defenceman hit the post moments later.

Tavares then stuffed his career-high 39th past Delia with 1:31 left inside a raucous Scotiabank Arena.

The Leafs continued to press — Delia appeared to push the net off its moorings with under a minute to go during a mad scramble where he'd lost his stick — but the Blackhawks held on as both Matthews and Nazem Kadri failed to connect on late chances.

"We didn't put ourselves in a very good position," Rielly said. "But I think you have to be happy with the way we battled back.

"That being said, moving forward, it's not a start that we want to repeat."

Notes: After being held out of the lineup Monday for precautionary reasons because of an illness, Toronto announced Kasperi Kapanen has been diagnosed with a concussion. The Leafs were also minus Zach Hyman (flu), and defencemen Jake Gardiner (back) and Travis Dermott (shoulder). ... Toronto wraps up a three-game homestand Friday against Philadelphia. ... Chicago visits Montreal on Saturday.

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter


Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.


Advertise With Us