Lucas Viveiros | Report
The Toronto Maple Leafs rebounded on the second half of a back-to-back with a thrilling 7-6 win in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Both clubs played the previous night, which usually is an indicator in the quality of hockey, especially when it comes to the defensive side of the puck.
This game had definite signs of sub-par defensive play and goaltending, as goalies Cam Ward and Garret Sparks both had nights to forget.
Ward ended the evening with seven goals conceded on 34 shots, while Sparks finished the night with six goals given up on 31 shots.
The first period goal tally was four total, with each team netting a pair.
Chicago came out of the gates with speed, hemming the Leafs in their own end without an answer, leading to goals from captain Jonathan Toews and winger Alex DeBrincat.
Toronto finally got their legs underneath them when coach Babcock decided to take Tyler Ennis off of the Leafs top line and replace him with speedy winger Kasperi Kapanen.
As a result, Matthews sent a Hail Mary of a pass into the air landing on the stick of Kapanen for a breakaway to which he roofed the puck over the glove of Ward.
Matthews then tallied his fourth of the season off of a feed from Kapanen at 14:43 of the first period to level the game before the intermission.
The middle period consisted of Leafs centre John Tavares netting a couple of his own, including a power-play marker, and Blackhawks winger John Hayden putting up his first of the season. Toronto took the lead into the third 4-3.
Just 2:20 into the final period, Hawks d-man Brandon Manning unleashed a bomb off the goal post and in to even the match at four.
The Maple Leafs free agent allstar had another answer for the Hawks however, as John Tavares knocked a pass from Mitch Marner out of the air before letting go a powerful wrist shot, eluding Cam Ward blocker side to put the Leafs back in the driver’s seat.
Tavares scored his third of the evening, giving him his first hat trick as a Maple Leaf in only his third game, and first ever road game representing the blue and white (check out all three goals below).
The outcome of the game was far from over though, as American superstars Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews took over in the final 90 seconds.
First, Kane evened the game at five by beating Sparks clean through the wickets causing the United Center to erupt into a frenzy.
Auston Matthews responded with his second of the night and proceeded to taunt the Hawks crowd with his hand cupped over his ear motioning for silence, and handing the Leafs a 6-5 victory, or so he thought.
Chicago put forth one final attack with under 30 seconds to play and Patrick Kane was able to connect on a one timer from the blue line to beat Sparks yet again evening up the contest.
Immediately after the tying goal, Kane mocked Matthews by using the same celebration to get the crowd fired up (see below).
The game would settle down for the remaining 28 seconds and head to sudden death overtime.
With the way both goaltenders were playing in the final period it was no secret that neither were at their sharpest, so one shot very well could wrap it up.
Morgan Rielly got the memo by slowly dancing into the offensive zone and firing a seeing-eye shot through Cam Ward just 19 seconds into overtime, handing the Maple Leafs the victory 7-6.
The Maple Leafs will play the second of their four game road trip in Dallas on Tuesday night against Tyler Seguin and the Stars.
Puck drop is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. from American Airlines Center, and can be seen on TSN.
More news from the ice
- It was Stan Mikita night in Chicago, as the Blackhawks wore patches with the No. 21 on their jerseys, and No. 21 was painted on the ice behind each net
- Toronto centre John Tavares is the first Leafs player to record a Hat Trick vs the Blackhawks since Mats Sundin on November 12, 1998
- Leafs centre Auston Matthews and Hawks centre Jonathan Toews sit atop the NHL goal scoring lead with five a piece through their first three games
- Toronto d-man Martin Marincin made his season debut replacing Igor Ozhiganov
- The remaining of the Maple Leafs road trip consists of stops in Dallas, Detroit, and Washington
Out of town scoreboard
NY Rangers 5 Carolina 8
Detroit 2 Los Angeles 4
More coverage to follow. Image from CBC Sports.