The Chicago Blackhawks are a significantly worse team than the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, earlier in the year, it took an overtime period for the Leafs to beat the Hawks back in Chicago. This time around, the Hawks felt like they had a chance to take down the high-octane Leafs squad.
The first time that these teams met, they were each in a completely different spot than they are right now. Unfortunately, Toronto turned their season around much better than Chicago did. With all of that in mind, the Hawks made things very difficult for the home team in Toronto on Saturday night.
The Leafs got out to a 4-1 leaf early. Jonathan Toews scored in back-to-back games (after going the first two months with no goals) to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. The Leafs then had goals from John Tavares, William Nylander, Auston Matthews, and Pierre Engvall to get out to that aforementioned 4-1 lead.
Chicago battled all the way back, however, to erase the three-goal deficit and get it tied. Connor Murphy, Dominik Kubalik, and Jake McCabe all scored to turn the game around. It was looking really nice as the Hawks were now dominating play but they ran into some seriously bad luck.
The Chicago Blackhawks had a tough break at the end of their game in Toronto.
Kevin Lankinen was a victim of a bad bounce when David Kampf scored for the Leafs with 1:20 left in regulation. It would serve as the last-second game-winner as the former Hawk made a great play to take advantage of that lucky bounce.
The Blackhawks outshot the Leafs 35-26 as they really turned it on in the end. They showed that they can play with a team as elite as the Maple Leafs who are right at the top of the Eastern Conference. It was a game that they can feel good about themselves despite the loss.
The only bad part is that they really can’t afford to have “good losses” as they are well behind the teams in playoff contention. They need to win games like this in order to survive in the chase for the postseason. It isn’t looking great right now.
The Blackhawks will get their next chance on Monday. They are the only game on the NHL slate for that day as they take on the Calgary Flames at home. It is another very difficult matchup against one of the league’s best teams. The hope is that they can learn from this Toronto game and bring a full effort in this Calgary game.